The 12 Temples (Part 3)

Greetings and welcome back to Journeys! This month I give you the final part of my series on the 12 Temples –  the 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th.


The 9th Temple: Discovery, Faith, Philosophy, Initiation

Location: The 9th temple is the zone of sky that an object moves into after immediately it reaches the midheaven – it is where things begin to move to the western horizon to set. They have just passed their place of bright, burning power high in the sky for that day and are now in a position to make great discoveries about life.

Discussion: The 9th house is the temple of discovery or revelation and its key may be thought of as ‘Lessons in the Awareness of Existence’. Through this temple we become more aware of our existence and thus of our own being and identity – it elaborates on the 1st and 5th temple. It shows our experience of faith or belief, since what we believe becomes the teacher of our self identity, its moral guide and conscience.

Meaning is life affirming even when it is bitter to taste and not what we expected it to mean – encountering meaning means we are alive. Even a total nihilist must believe in themselves at some level, in their ideas or in their senses, and likewise an atheist believes in their own belief rather than in just nothing at all. Total absence of belief is impossible because the multiverse is infinite in scope – the human brain cannot be aware of it all at once, therefore it is forced to conjure beliefs to fill in the gaps. The 9th temple shows which ideas (from the opposite 3rd temple) inspire us to ‘look upwards’ into a broader scope and perceive broader ideals or archetypal or essential meaning which we seek to identify self and our life with, meanings which were in ancient times perceived as deities to follow but in modern times are also represented by our beliefs and our faith in a higher and greater law or truth and a sense of adventure in our freedom to roam in exploring beyond the boundary of what we know. It is where we learn though inspirational means about the greater and broader laws in operation throughout our universe and within the Self, and the greater universal intelligences which guide us ever outward. Nothing is alone – the state of feeling alone is a consequence of misapprehending the state of being all-One – everything is guided to an ever broader awareness of reality by a greater awareness. In practical human terms, this guidance comes under the purview of the 9th temple, so it is a temple that relates to long distance travels, prophecy and astrology, illumination, magical or mystical initiation and instruction, enlightenment (though significantly this temple only shows our approach to enlightenment and the consequent experiences we will have – our present maturity of consciousness or the degree of spiritual awareness we have is not specifically captured in the birth chart, though it is symbolically inferred by the whole), dreams and epiphanies, gurus and awakening through mentors, philosophy, religion, higher education (in universities, colleges – modern apprenticeship to a mentor), Gnosis, the search for truth, a sense of discovery and adventure, justice, the broad spread of knowledge through publishing, contact with ‘Divine Providence’, the Greater Self, etc. In ancient times this temple was the home of the gods, indicating (among other astrological factors such as our heliacal stars) which deities we would worship and be protected by. It is anything which can broaden the mind or blind it with dogma. The Sun has its joy in this temple as it is the planetary source of illumination. It is especially strong here when we are born in the day as a Fire or Air Sun sign. In these cases it often makes for someone notably pious and moral.

Along with the other temples with an affinity for the concept of existence (the 1st and 5th) the 9th reveals our broader attitude to the radiant light of our self identity and the power of life, something fundamental about our identity or self awareness, the 9th being especially about our attitude of learning and growing in this respect. So we can say that this temple governs our ability to learn from life, while the 5th governs our ability to enjoy it and the 1st our ability to live it. These temples are about the experience of being alive and how much we take out of it, and this one concerns itself with learning from life and drawing meaning from it.

From a hermetic and astrological point of view, each person or individual is the centre of an infinite universe. The possibilities for learning and for expanding horizons in all directions in this scheme are literally endless (and thus also beginning-less). When we are surprised or astonished by the breadth of possibility in this universe, when our personal horizon of consciousness or awareness expands, we are always reminded of the infinite property of all things, even if we only know it unconsciously – this is the province of the temple of discovery. Metaphorically, then, if the 1st temple corresponds to the direct result of light and heat from a star (the impact of the sacred identity on the local and immediate environment, the body, the clothed ‘I Am’), and the 5th is like the local star or Sun itself (the luminous creative radiation of the power of life and the identity, the creative life force, the ‘I Create’), then the 9th is the dazzling array of twinkling lights in the universe at night (the vaster and greater eternal light of cosmic identity of which our Sun is but a part, the ‘I Discover’). Together these 3 conceptually form what I call the Temples of Existence or the Temples of Life, which have an indirect affinity for the Fire Element as they aspect the ascendant, the source of emerging life and light, by trine or conjunction. The other Triplicities in this model of the temples are the Temples of the Soul (4th, 8th & 12th) which have an indirect affinity to Water and with astral matters; the Temples of the Mind & Society (3rd, 7th & 11th), which align themselves more with the Air Element and mental spheres of life experience; and the Temples of Bodily Experience (2nd, 6th and 10th), the temples indirectly akin to the Element of Earth and more material experiences. These natural biases of Elemental quality, which are the same for every chart, are subtle and are weaker than the actual Elemental influences of the zodiac signs that personally control the temples. If, for example, Libra rises on the 1st temple, the influence of Air will be much stronger than that of Fire over that region of life and we could categorize that temple as Fire of Air.

So what we are faced with here is some kind of journey, some kind of pathway through and up into new realms of life experience and existence, to broader and more meaningful realms, whether through travel, education, religious devotion or initiation. The astrological influences from this temple become significations of our contact with the Greater Self and the opening up of broader life experience. These astrological pieces are like initiatory talismans, some of which may be imprints carried forward from former initiation. Primarily these influences will come from the sign which opens this temple, the ruler of that sign and any planets in this temple (whether permanently through the natal chart or temporarily through the 26 keys). Here in the 9th we learn not just a broader definition of what we are but what that means. The sign supporting this temple will tone all our experience of these areas by controlling the processes which occur to lead you to them. The ruler of that sign will bring about revelation through the temple it inhabits, and any occupants will do the same through their sign, parans and aspects.

In mundane terms the sign on the 9th temple describes the kinds of learning and the subjects which will broaden our mind and help us perceive things more truthfully, the comprehension of meaning through greater objective perception. This objective perception of the universe is really the entire aim of this temple. In our human world of experience we can more easily attain this objective perception by utilising astrology. Leo, for example, might indicate that any subject that is entertaining, illuminating, cheerful, dramatic or visually spectacular can in some way lead you directly to the guidance of the Greater Self – an objective perception of the universe. We might say that Leo and the Sun and the Sun sign would in that case act as ‘phone numbers’ of the Greater Self and so working with their keys will dramatically broaden your view of the world and place it in a context which is revelatory.

Certain places can also fulfill this function: the countries and cities connected to the sign on this temples cusp according to their national or founding charts are probably interesting vacation areas that may significantly broaden your awareness of existence. The strongest connections come from countries with one of the Lights in this sign or which have the ruler of the 1st or 9th temples from your chart in that sign. Remember that when nations or cities go through major changes, the connections move around.

Going further with this, in particular those national charts which have the Lights, planets or angles at the specific degree of the zodiac that opens your 9th temple or are nearby to it or anything nearby to the specific degree of the ruler of the 9th in your chart will strongly connect with your 9th temple (assuming you have an accurate time of birth). Since the 9th temple is also about culture we can also look to charts of cultural events for any which have a connection to this degree.

This path is part personal (being drawn from your temple positions and rulerships) and part impersonal (this then being applied to the independent astrology present at different physical locations). An even more personal and individualised path is also available, however. All of the objects located in the birth chart can be projected onto a map of the globe showing where they are located for the person. Before the advent of computers this was done by re-casting the birth chart using a new location – the same time, date and so on were used, only the location was changed. This practice is called relocation astrology and in the past charts were usually only cast for a specific location. For example, I was born in London and moved to live in Berlin in 1999, so a relocation chart for that would involve recalculating my birth chart as if it took place in Berlin rather than London (using my original birth time and date). The further you go from where you were born the more the differences show up, especially if you go across the equator – here we see evidence that says if we want to escape some of the binding conditions of the birth astrology we have we should move away from where we were born. With the advent of computers this form of astrology has not only become easier but it has also become more visual. This computerized representation of the same information is an emerging practice called astro-cartography. Using ACG the objects in the chart can be plotted as curved or straight lines (depending on what is looked for). You can check out some more about that here.

Opposite the 3rd temple is the 9th temple. The polarity of the 3rd/9th temple is what I will call the cognitive polarity, the blending of intellectual and social cognition with universal cognition. The mental body must integrate its opinions, thoughts, social circumstances and personal ideas (3rd) into a framework of ever broader guiding principles such as morality, law, truth, ethics and the influence of the conscience (9th), and vice versa. Both of these temples relate to our experience of the ability to process cognitive information, to extract meaning and truth from data. In the 3rd, pieces of information are separated and compared, things are broken down into smaller units – opinions and perspectives – and the workings of an idea are examined with the intellect. In the 9th, the pieces are being assembled into a greater philosophical whole; here we are trying to perceive the meaning behind the notions, how it all fits together, the truthfulness which connects them together. The cognitive polarity is concerned with the balance and translation of concepts between specifics and generalities, between the individual and the universe, in both directions.

Concepts: Long distance travel, exposure to the exotic or alien, philosophy or faith, belief, the initiatory path, mystical matters, magic and divination, how contact with the Greater Self manifests, education beyond school years, publishing and law.

Ancient terms: Place of God, House of Religion, Deus, Theos, the Good Decline.


The 10th Temple: Aspiration, Ambition, Destiny and Perspective

Location: The 10th temple is the region of sky positioned in the space just to the side of the midheaven of the sky, towards the eastern horizon. It is where the Sun moves just before (and when) it reaches its highest point in the sky for the day at that location.

Discussion: This is the last of the four powerful angular houses, the places of power – the 1st, 4th, 7th and 10th temple cusps, otherwise known as the ascendant, imum coeli (IC), descendent and midheaven (MC or medium coeli), respectively. The 10th house is the temple of destiny and its key focus is ‘Awareness of Physical Action’. It is the most public temple of any horoscope and its cusp or degree is arguably the most sensitive degree of the entire Earth Zone but is at least second in sensitivity after the degree of the ascendant. This sensitivity is very directly attuned to active manifestation in the external physical and material world, however, more so than any other place in a chart. Planets in the 1st temple show principles we identify ourselves with in the present, while 10th temple indicators show what we hold up as being important or aspire to attain in the future, or well established physical things we kick against, something we seek to become or do and will experience as an active force in our public life. It is the place where we act to directly impact the material world by building a career, pursuing wide reaching goals or influencing society as a whole in some way, often because we feel that it is important to do so and thus this is also the place of the most public visibility, of reputation, how we are seen or the role we play in public life, just as planets in this region are in the most visible portion of the heavens – above us. It shows what is important to us, what we seek to attain or aspire to. Through this temple we have constructed all manner of hierarchies of government with which to implement human laws and hand order and status to physical existence from the top down. In ancient and not so long ago times this region was of importance to kings and heads of state, who would only plan important ceremonials during hours of the day in which auspicious influences like Jupiter were active in this region of the sky. Nowadays it is less well known, but governments, corporations, banks and individual politicians still use the same or similar tactics (much more advanced ones, actually), with great success, all over the world. The question of why nobody talks about this is easy to answer without referring to conspiracy theory. The nature of astrological practice today is, to be blunt, that many clients with high status in society are embarrassed to admit to consulting it as many fear consequences for their reputation if such practices were to be disclosed. For their part, professional astrologers respect clients wishes and do not reveal their names – their business depends on it.

On a personal level the 10th temple is a place of ambition and striving for recognition and material status or occasionally of just being born into a ruling or privileged class. Its power to create physical circumstances extends to our bloodline through the status that automatically comes with the family we are born into; the 10th connects by polarity with the 4th temple. In astrological lore, we are taught that the 10th region of sky is about all the overt ambitious activities we take on through the physical or material plane, our professional goals, career and natural degree of recognised authority, the respect we command in society, personal social values (our motivations and politics), our influence and place of power in society, what we strive to attain to and so on. It is our crown, our perceived destiny, the place where we ourselves would be in a position of greatest influence and effect, our chosen field of public influence. This isn’t necessarily a profession or career, but is always some kind of calling or vocation that we can find within us and fulfill in the material plane. Generations ago it was this temple and not the 7th that represented marriage, because then who you married reflected much more upon (and was predestined by) your status and station in life, a custom which still stands in much of the non-western world today – the temples are temporal spatial constructs that evolve different expressions of their essential meanings through time and are shaped by human cultures. Some change more than others because our attitudes to those areas of life are more fluid and experimental.

Sometimes this place is just handed to us, especially in previous generations when there were things called a family business, a lineage you followed. Many of our more common surnames – Carpenter, Smith, my own surname Coleman – have some roots in this tradition. Other times we are born into a royal line, or a business empire which then becomes a legacy. These things will be shown here, but whatever the case when we learn to consciously tune in to our inner guidance instead of being blindly driven by our desires for ambition or reputation or other external goals, the temple of destiny ‘sheds a skin’ and begins to instruct us in our deeper ‘calling’, our true vocation in material life, which is not an act but a measure of their personal significance. That is, behind our external career goals and ambitions, there are those internal things which we hold up as important, and behind those things, behind the things we want to achieve, there is our reason or motive for holding them up as being important (which is different to what we value about what we already possess – the 2nd), something often based upon our past – the polar opposite 4th temple of memory once more. Its development may thus often be seen psychologically as an extension or consequence of our 4th temple. Sometimes we are just born into a bloodline that has ruled for centuries, sometimes we have experiences in early life which we never truly escape, but we always act from the foundation of (and often adopt ambitions, political leanings and careers for ourselves) as a rebound or reaction to our childhood or parental influence, our memories of the past, and we shed or adapt this early foundation as we attain to the goals of the 10th temple. This is thus not where we have come from in life it is where we are destined or bound to be going, often as a consequence.

That word destiny is problematic for a lot of people. It is not meant to imply a fate from which you cannot escape, but one which you will not escape without some sort of conscious change of direction. It is the ultimate destination of a chosen direction or course, the innate ending of where a path must by its nature lead. Factors in the 10th temple will be inevitably encountered on the road to any goal, ambition or career, no matter its form. What we have control and influence over here is the specific form that they will take and we are often given a very generous space in which to do so because astrological symbols are rich with potential – one Sun in the 10th temple in Cancer, for example, may become a cook, another may choose to take care of children. Both are responding to the destiny described by Sun in Cancer. Importantly, at least in my experience, it is therefore more helpful when approaching this temple to instead think outside of the box, in terms of what will not work for you as a career choice. For example, it is unlikely that any Cancer Sun will enjoy being a bomb disposal expert (too much high tension and danger) or an exotic dancer (too much exposure). Exceptions to such general rules will exist but will be exceptions arising from other chart factors.

The 10th temple differs from the 6th in that it shows our overarching ambitions and personal goals, while the 6th shows our service or employment which does not further our ulterior goals directly. An aspiring artist (for example, Libra on the 10th) may work for a time as a kitchen assistant, as a nanny or kindergarten teacher, or as a nurse (Cancer on the 6th), for example. If she or he has Venus, ruler of the 10th, in Cancer in the 6th, these inclinations will apply more forcefully, and it may in fact turn out to be that persons true calling – a job that genuinely fulfills them – to work as a nurse or a kitchen assistant, etc. However if the same persons Venus is in Libra in the 10th, the inner call to be an artist can be far stronger and they will tend not to make such adjustments. Also, if the ruler of the 10th temple aspects the midheaven, Sun or Moon or ruler of the chart, its influence will be very strongly felt on life as a whole but in the career in particular and if it aspects the ascendant, Sun or Moon then this whole area of life will be taken much more personally. The aspects involved in both cases are characteristic of an ease or difficulty in realizing ones goals in the physical world. So the placement of the ruler of the 10th in the chart strongly accentuates the expression of this temple. In other words, if whichever planet rules the 10th is elsewhere, it will tend to show a modification to our goals and to where we actually end up career wise. If the ruler of the 10th is in Libra or the 7th, it may be the chart of a relationship counselor, for example. The sign on the 10th shows an approach or attitude, the ruler a direction, and the planets in the 10th are often representative of important goals, events or people. This applies as an approach to every other temple according to that temples own essential meaning.

Finally it must be understood that the influence of signs on the temples should not be taken too strongly. They are best thought of as general inclinations that may be easily offset by planetary forces. The influence of signs on temples is not a potent one, its often cosmetic and connected with an inner role than an outer one, at least when compared to planets that rule or inhabit that temple. The sign here does not necessarily describe our profession, although it might (and then not by mere chance); it’s more accurate to say it shows our vocational attitude, approach and the kind of experience we have rather than our choice or type of profession, although this will be inferred, of course – someone who wants to help and heal people is more likely to become a doctor but they may also become a musician, a research scientist, a builder or a psychotherapist; it is the inner attitude that this temple depicts, but the outer form often follows in typical ways. However, planets found in temples exert far more potent effects over our choices than the sign does, and especially in the powerful 10th.

The 4th/10th temples are the temporal polarity because they relate to past memories and important future ambitions, which are where we come from and where we are going, respectively. In other words they relate to our experience of orientation in time, our perception of both our past and our anticipated future, the vertical axis of power which bisects the horizontal axis of the identification polarity of the 1st/7th, creating the cardinal or primary realms of experience which turn life on Earth – identity bisecting and moving through time (and vice versa). We move through time with our memories beneath and our ambitions above. An imbalance in this axis will result in both an inability to learn from the past and a lack of awareness of where your life is heading overall.

Concepts: Ambitions, what is important to us, goals and future plans, occupation, reputation, public eye, professional role, physical impacts, authority, government, perspective (from assuming a loftier position).

Ancient terms: Place at the Peak, Midheaven, the Crowning Place.


The 11th Temple: Community, Friends, Allies and Hope

Location: The 11th temple is a region of sky positioned midway between the eastern horizon and the zenith of the sky, the midheaven. It is roughly the portion of the heavens midway between the eastern horizon and the zenith of the sky, in other words, looking east and roughly 45 degrees up from the horizon. In the course of a day it is the ‘mid-morning’ temple in which the Sun and other objects have risen, broken free of the horizon, and are now ascending to the top of the sky.

Concepts: The 11th house is the temple of fellowship, companionship, alliance or hope and its focus is ‘Awareness of Mental Security’ because its activities put the mental awareness in context with something like itself but broader and more inclusive, through sharing and connecting. We can say it takes the raw opinion, hearsay and ideas out of the 3rd temple and translates them into societal and intellectual ideals, things we share with others that lend us a sense of social and mental refuge – a sense of collective group awareness. This region relates to our allies and friendships, our sense of common purpose, our societal ideals, our role in group dynamics, wishes for the future and hopes (social conscience as well as social fears); it is where we seek and aspire to find a sense of a better future which is not our creation alone but which harmonises with those of humanity as a whole, and it is where what we have put out into the collective (the creative light of the 5th temple) comes back to us, for example as audience appreciation, applause, offers of assistance, recognition of our gifts, etc. It is about comprehending that we rise or fall together and that what we share will return to us, the place of reaction to our efforts. It is the temple of cosmic allies and was called ‘Bonus Spiritus’ (‘Good Spirit’) by Ptolemy and other early writers. Hellenistic astrology and later Renaissance texts mention a Good and Bad Genius (Bonus Spiritus and Malus Spiritus), and a Good and Bad Fortune (Bona Fortuna and Mala Fortuna). These are the 11th and 12th, and the 5th and 6th temples, respectively. The Good and Bad Spirits are above the horizon (thus of the spiritual world) and the Fortunes below (thus of the material world). What makes a temple ‘good’ or ‘bad’ in the view of the ancients is both its position relative to the 1st temple and ascendant which is the source of light and life and whether it is angular (the most favorable places, the 1st, 4th, 7th and 10th), succeedent (the next best category, the 2nd, 5th, 8th and 11th) or cadent (the worst places, the 3rd, 6th, 9th and 12th).

Jupiter is in its joy in this temple. Jupiter’s essential quality of empathy and commonality and its emphasis on widespread or shared growth is given a natural place when it comes to working together with others to achieve a common goal in a spirit of camaraderie. Jupiter is also in its joy as the planet of faith and mercy in a temple which is connected with spiritual fortunes. Lights, planets and other celestial objects placed within or connected to this temple generally bring many benefits and often much welcome assistance, but are not entirely providential – sometimes they assist us in unwise ventures. And an alliance always goes both ways.

In some ways though it is an even more auspicious zone of the sky than the angular 10th temple, which brings professional status and recognition or attainment and influence, a certain favour of destiny, sometimes by birth. By primary motion planets in the 11th have risen in the east, already extricated themselves from the obscurity of the 12th temple, and now have a place to climb and an ultimate prize to aspire to, whereas objects in the 10th are ‘already there’ and can only really go ‘down’ from there, sinking rapidly into the west. Therefore any planets and influences in the 11th (by birth or temporarily by the keys) are considered to be our friends, influences which extend a helping hand up the stairwell of the sky into the realm of our aspirations and will tend to lend us aid in manifesting our wishes and hopes for the future, especially when they are not ours alone but belong to a group of individuals connected by their shared hope or purpose – when they have scope and scale. In such situations we are befriended by that planets essential meaning and furthermore its power increases swiftly as time passes and the more it gives away recognition for itself to a shared recognition of achievement. The planets and other influences in this temple reach out or down with benefits to help us through or up to the fulfillment of our wishes but they withdraw when we reach for glory just as group dynamics suffer when one ego attempts to hog them.

Here then are our allies and our ability to attract them. Our (secret, hidden) enemies follow, in the 12th, while our public (known) adversaries are sometimes described by the 7th (astrology regards known rivals and enemies and marriage/relationship partners as analogous through the 7th temple, as both are considered ‘significant others’). ‘Allies’ and ‘friends’ do not necessarily imply ‘pleasant associations’, however – as Oscar Wilde said, ‘A good friend will always stab you in the front’. It’s those good friends we find here, the ones who stab you in the back belong more to a 12th or 8th temple experience, perhaps, but we must not lose sight of the potential for secretive betrayals or ideological and political power struggles, perhaps indicated by a troubled Pluto in the 11th.

The other temple related to the intellectual and social sphere, the 3rd, governs our more immediate communications and perceptions, our interactions with neighbours and siblings and the local environment, whereas the 11th specifically describes our more global interaction with wider human society, its reaction to our performance, our larger ideals and those who share a dream of some form with us, the groups we will freely interact with and the close friendships we have. We might say, the 3rd is our personal neighbourhood (guy upstairs), the 7th our closest partners or opposite numbers (a lover), the 11th the more wider social network we connect with (our buddies), our often more deliberately cultivated group memberships, the people that like us and with whom we can form common bonds which benefit both parties. If we are a performer, this is the audience. If we are a politician, this is the electorate. If our work is about other people, here are our networks. If we work in a team, here is the group and our interaction with it, regardless of the individuals who come and go from it.

So while the 10th is often – like the top – lonely and highly vulnerable to a spectacular fall, the 11th is blossoming with ‘good spirits’ that surround us in mutual interest and offer the protection and advantages of a herd. Being a mentally and socially focused region which lies opposite the 5th, the temple of creativity and self confident expression or radiation of life, the 11th temple is the audience to the performer and performance of the 5th. It not only represents ones allies and ability to make friends, it also represents the ability to connect with ones audience and to involve oneself with the wider social and mental network upon which we all depend, the human collective awareness; thus, all our group interactions and our interpersonal group dynamic as well as the socio-political world we find ourselves living together in – the capacity to make friendships. As the creative light of the 5th temple – the joy of being alive – is ramped up and shines out more brightly, as we truly radiate our unique light of Self creatively in life, energies are set in motion in the 11th temple which produce a reaction from the human collective mind and draw in feedback and allies who share compatible visions. And it is a temple which focuses on hopes, wishes and ways in which the human condition can be improved for everyone in the future, a temple of idealism, of shared tomorrows. We find broader meaning for our life and self identity in the 9th and we find our loftiest objectives in the 10th, but it is the 11th that gives us purpose and hope, which are sacred ingredients in any enjoyment of 5th temple pleasures. A life that feels without these things will have issues to work through in this temple. A life with too much invested here will be over committed and overly idealistic in some manner.

The sign here shows our approach and the kind of experience we have in all these areas, the basic way in which we process the 11th temples array of experience. Its ruler may be considered a planetary agent who can put us in touch with the right people, so that if we work with its essential meaning we will meet people or situations which can help us move up in life and will gain numerous benefits. The same is true of occupants of this region. However, in either case their effect is better when the planets dignity is strong and its aspects supportive and not too challenging in order for you to be naturally open enough or positioned with enough support to receive the assistance. If any of these conditions are not satisfied lessons sometimes need to be learned before you become open to receive and accept help (or the right kind of help), lessons which frequently involve idealism and hope, the need for company and audience appreciation or sometimes in overcoming social inequalities or handicaps.

What is the dark side of the 11th temple? Apart from being without the support of friends and a group we can belong to (exclusion), or being left to cope without hope and a sense of purpose, other possibilities are inherent – peer pressure can dominate behaviour in an unhealthy way, herd mentality and ideological drives may consume the focus of life with whimsical and unrealistic goals, socio-political movements can sweep us up in a total loss of identity, friendships may actually be the kind that help you get on by hurting you or may lead to endless drifting from one group to another, our dependence (or the lack of it) on a philanthropic group such as a charity organization can become problematic, we can become lazy because we have fantastic allies doing everything for us – there are many ways in which the beneficial help offered by this temple can wither on the vine. The key to avoiding them all is to find within you the future intentions that inspire you to be hopeful, share them with others of like mind, and work to ground that shared vision into reality by focusing on that goal when working together with these people. It is not something that will just magically arise like a gift from the heavens, and it is not something that will take place in the future either – that way is the way of hoping for a miracle – it is instead an ideal that becomes more real in the present through the activities you undertake in this temple with others who share the same or similar intentions for our collective future.

The 5th and 11th temples are what I call the co-creative polarity, the axis of individual and collective expression. The polarity of these temples can be described as ‘creating/giving’. Like the 11th, which governs shared goals, utopian hopes and images of the future that are shared with others and have somewhere to go, the 5th is also a temple of hope and vision, but of a fundamentally more internally self centred, private and personal kind. Rather than the global hopes represented by the shared goals and broad ambitious visions of the 11th temple its opposite the 5th is more like the private hope that lies behind every work of art, and every new-born child, a more personal expression of hope and the best qualities in humanity. The 5th is often very strong in those motivated to seek fame for instance (or even notoriety, as some do), as a means to establish lasting security for the identity through creative powers and works of art which outlast the mortal span of the personality, while the 11th seeks a kind of collective fame, the fame of a group and its ideals being realized. The connection between the two temples is also displayed in the way the ideals of a society shape its arts, and vice versa. This axis is therefore concerned with the levels of experience that create security for us in the intellectual/social and identity areas. The 5th -11th division of the sky (pleasure/hope) gives rise to our potential for focused creative and co-creative stability; it delineates two zones or temples which share a common function of delineating our relationship to enriching life and society; the 5th temple expresses the creative potency of our own unique identity and its life – what we have to contribute; the 11th our intellectual or social utopia, our wishes for a shared belonging with others – the purpose we aim to attain by contributing. In finding the balance and eventually the equilibrium between these two focuses we uncover not only important parts of our role in life, the larger society and the human collective awareness, but also our own power to influence it.

Concepts: Hopes, friends, gifts, community spirit, group contact, political and ideological views, networks, audiences, contacts, allies, dreams and the collective movement to Utopian ideals.

Ancient terms: Bonus Spiritus, Good Spirit


The 12th Temple: Retreat, Undoing, Redemption and Inner Reflection

Location: The 12th temple is the zone of sky above the eastern horizon where the Sun appears to rise every day. It is always dim and cool at this time of morning, with nature reflecting upon the passing of the caress of the stars at night, but with a promise of bright new beginnings dawning. This is the spirit of the 12th.

Discussion: We have come to the final segment of the heavens having traversed the sky from the eastern horizon (the 1st temple), descended below the Earth (reaching the lowest point underneath us at the 4th temple), emerged again at the western horizon (at the 7th temple) and continued round past the midheaven of the 10th temple to descend again towards the east. The 12th temple lies adjacent to the 1st temple and is separated from it by the degree of the ascendant. However unlike the 1st temple the 12th does not have a fortunate reputation in astrology. Traditionally it was seen as the temple of curses, madness, witchcraft, devilry, imprisonment, chronic diseases or plague, slavery, secrets and guilt along with the notoriety, shame and fear associated with them. I will attempt to explain this perception in the following discussion.

The final sky zone or celestial temple is what I call the temple of undoing or the unseen, the ‘temple obscura’; it is the temple of the hidden enemy and of shadow and self-undoing, and its essence is ‘Awareness of Astral Body Learning’. It is where we are not fully (or at all) conscious of ourselves because the astrological influences are invisible or concealed. We do not see and so we trip ourselves up over them. At the far end of the spectrum from the conscious self identity of the 1st temple, the 12th is our astrological blind spot, the subconscious and unconscious identity. It is here we are required to retreat, dive within and work in isolation on ourselves, transforming by merging with our essence, in short the place of self liberation from all our hidden contents. It is fundamentally a place of unfinished business and self development left over from previous lives, but the focus here in the 12th is on bringing these to closure in readiness for…something mysterious.

We experience it most directly pressing in on us when we are utterly alone, and ‘far from the madding crowd’. The Mystery looms large when we stand before it in isolation. Saturn joys in this temple. He becomes more Saturnine as his essential qualities are supported, specifically his esoteric astra-mental influence over the formation of matter and his connection to time and karma, but on a more mundane level it is because we are often felt to be all alone even when surrounded by people, and this condition seems fixed and immovable but is in fact just maturing very slowly. The centre of stillness is  always in motion.

It is traditionally an abode of ill-omen, misery, bane and toil, an alien sickly place where any object is toxic or dissipating in strength, doomed to captivity or to climb and not know recognition, power or attainment. The ancients viewed this realm very superstitiously, assigning it a cursed association – the ‘Evil Spirit’. Part of the reason for this is because of the low visibility of celestial objects just above the eastern horizon. Visibility with the naked eye is an important factor in astrological effects. Planets which are so visible include all those out to and including Saturn. Although Uranus is at times faintly observable, planets beyond this distance cannot be seen by the naked human eye and thus cannot influence the human world of the Earth in as direct a form, they manifest through abstractions, collective will and the Akasha so their influence cannot work upon the physical plane directly but must mediate with it through the astral and mental planes. In this connection it is worth meditating on the discoveries of quantum mechanics and the significance of the observer.

Not only are potentially visible planets blocked from sight by any features on the landscape, but their power is also said to be obscured and weakened in this place because when the Sun rises here any stars or planets in the region are rendered invisible, combust in the solar radiance, so they will not be seen at all day or night until the Sun moves on. In fact the entire spectacle of the night sky gets extinguished here, obscuring the heavens completely from our view. Thus the degrees above the ascendant on the lip of the eastern horizon (beyond 5 or 6 degrees of the rising degree) are thought to be especially dis-empowered and even evil, for here the influence of forces wanes dramatically because it is struggling to become visible. The same was also thought to be true of any planets found near the Sun anywhere in the chart. Thus, though it may be empowered, such an object is engaged in a struggle to be seen or noticed – it is obscure. Just as the Sun rises and climbs through this region at the break of day, its light and heat only a fragment of its true power, planets in this area have had their moment of morning glory when they touched the world as they rose on the horizon in the east; now they must only work hard and invisibly to rise up to the zenith of the sky, at the cusp of the 10th – here they are all embattled in that process of breaking away from the horizon, seeking to become more visible, seeking assistance in manifesting themselves, assistance they gain when they reach the 11th through primary motion.

Thus the 12th temple is about our blindness, our sense of clueless isolation, our invisible or hidden flaws and weaknesses, our invisible struggles, the blindness in us or the toil which we must rise above and which can foil us and strike, venom like, inducing altered states and self undoing or alienating us from others. An important thing to remember when considering this temple is that its baneful, hidden effects are of a temporary or temporal nature. Objects which are obscured or battling to arise here will eventually appear; hidden enemies (12th) eventually become known enemies (7th), prisoners and patients eventually escape from their institutions (even if it is only in death) and inevitably any unconscious patterns must rise to the conscious mind through the subconscious. In other words, there is a quality of things surfacing or rising up in this temple, which differentiates it from the 8th and 4th where such things tend to stay buried.

Planetary activity here can also lead us to involvement with institutions where things are hidden or people spend time in isolation such as hospitals, jails, libraries and the armed services (which can remove and isolate people from the rest of the world and contain people invisibly), or to experiences with subconscious fears, self perpetuating curses, hidden enemies, the secrets we’d rather not anyone ever find out about us (but which we are keen to uncover in others), the things we wont admit to ourselves, hidden occult groups, sacrifice, unredeemed karma (i.e. stuff we inwardly knew we should have done but did not, or stuff we know we should not have done but did, for whatever reason), and in some cases with forms of redemption or selfless service to humanity and the consequences of decisions in previous lifetimes, hence it comes to be linked with superstitions, ‘curses ‘ and ‘evil spirits’. Through all of these things we come to know the contents of the temple of the unseen. It is a chaotic place of jumbled, unknown disorder, a place where there exist only entombed premature energies not yet fully recognised by the conscious being, a storage space for guilty secrets and hidden vices, but through exploring and consciously working it out we come to know a blissful release from its bindings and experience self liberation from mysterious feelings of persecution. Many people perceive it as a way in which the world is out to ‘get’ them (a persecution complex), and this is especially typical if Pluto or Neptune is present or activates the 12th temple key. In the 12th we find all the matters which our conscious awareness has neglected to garden – an inevitable reality of incarnate life since conscious awareness is infinite – and so here we find many mysteries and very few solutions to them. In fact we might say there is only one solution to the problems of the 12th and that is transcendence.

Indeed it is this temple which yields us a direct offer of transcendence, a merging with the all and a resolution to things that have been left without closure, by simply atoning for them and then rising above them, moving on with grace and acceptance. In this temple we can assimilate things and atone for and gain freedom from the results of past actions. We can correct our mistakes and may even at times undo them or rise above them. We can begin to start over. So it is very much a temple concerned with internal shifts that lead to transcendence of all kinds. However, this process is often made difficult by the meddling influence of our own blind spots, the unconscious and subconscious, unless the nature of the subconscious is no longer so hidden from us through the application of our conscious awareness, then we can use the subconscious to consciously glimpse things in deeper and deeper parts of the unconscious. So the task for us here is to make it so and transform the subsconscious into an ally and the first task in this process is to examine its nature.

There are two very powerful and reliable ways to know this relatively hidden part of oneself – one is to isolate yourself figuratively or literally, and notice who or what you become when no-one else is around. A question often posed by the 12th is “who do you become when you are completely abandoned, physically and astrally alone in life and stripped naked against the storm?” To know ourselves we must encounter ourselves nakedly. In the 12th we can discover that being alone is a short perceptual step away from being All One. This is the magic of introspection and of meditation and self contemplation, the foundational work of all magical practice including the creation of soul mirrors and magical equilibration in hermetic praxis. It is initially plagued or cursed by subjectivity and lack of clarity, but as we look within things emerge and become more apparent. However, this is a completely private insight that cannot really be perceived by or shared with anyone else, although we can communicate part of it.

The other method allows not only you but anyone an objective but symbolic insight into this subconscious character and it is astrology, the cosmic mirror. The sign on the cusp of this temple reveals something only astrology can do in the way it does, for all to understand – the essential meaning or character of this hidden place in each individual. It holds a zodiacal mirror up to our blind spot, a blind spot within us which is ever hidden from our own sight and yet seeks to be owned and reintegrated as us through its continuous interaction with the consciousness (the cusp of the 1st house, our ascendant), a process which is ultimately experienced as total self liberation. This part of the heavens is not cursed at all; on the contrary, it offers us the gift of insight and a blissful release from those things which are our greatest undoing. It is principally humanities fear of looking within its own soul and its attribution of responsibility to the gods and fates rather than to conditions of its own inner world that has given this temple its cursed reputation, for if we do not face these things, they will manifest in our undoing and they will behave in devilish ways.

We must remember that there is an unconscious, which by definition we have no awareness of, and a subconscious, which we have some partial awareness of, and that the 12th temple is concerned with both. If we wish to attribute a rough astrological zone for each we can choose the beginning of the 12th temple up to its middle and the 12th temple key itself as the core of the unconscious and the 10 degrees or so before the end of the 12th temple and the start of the 1st temple as the subconscious zone. The 12th temple is not the only place where we find unconscious and subconscious patterns – in fact they permeate the entire chart – but here we are looking at major features, how to deal with it, the foot we can gain in that door, and how it generally looks if we do not, and these two signs and their inhabitants and rulers are our primary clues.

So, returning to the nature of the 12th temple, ultimately from an astrological perspective this region of the sky and the cause of self undoing in our lives are chiefly a lack of conscious connection to the Element and the sign and the planetary ruler of this temple along with its inhabitants. It is a manifestation of the gulf between our conscious and unconscious intent, a realm of awareness we call the subconscious which is often harboring guilt and shame, failure, denial and self persecution for our misdeeds and weaknesses, and when gazed into it seems to be a void that appears to us to be infinitely wide but since just a shift in attention is required to traverse it, it is never as insurmountable and futile as it appears to be. For the magician, this transformational magic of the subconscious is done in stages, step by step, as the initiate actively transforms the unconscious into a more conscious, magical perception of the universe and works on themselves to transform the content revealed. For the mystic, it is more yielded to, fallen into, immersed in through transcendental meditation and allowed to encompass and envelope, and then passed through, let go of and released on a voyage into the infinite essence of essences. Steven Forrest (a practicing Buddhist as well as an astrologer) refers to this as a merging with pure consciousness but to me as a magician it is more than that, it is a merging with the incomprehensible truths that consciousness is capable of apprehending even if it does not have the capacity to communicate them to any other awareness, and it is the puzzling journey of somehow evolving a way of bringing this insight back to reality, making it useful.

For most people nowadays therapy and counseling serve a similar role. By whatever method used, when this journey is embraced there is a conscious intent to engage and transform the subconscious and there is then a change in emphasis in this temple, as it becomes a focus for a different kind of un-doing, not the undoing of the self through behaviours which trip us up but the undoing of the illusory attachments to our concepts of ‘self’ through meditation and magical states of consciousness which flow from and into an infinite point on a journey of transcendence. We also draw close to the temple of the unseen when we are left with whatever haunts us when we are alone or adrift in deep trance states. All these approaches achieve the desired effect, which is to bring one closer to a state of unified communion and ultimately peace with all the astral materia we have no other way to grasp or bring conscious control to.

The 6th/12th temple polarity I call the essentialising polarity. It is about extracting the essence of learning on the physical and astral plane and its two positive poles of activity can be summarised as “being here now/transcendent bliss”. On the one hand, the 6th temple calls us to focus on the mundane now moment we are in physically, but the 12th draws us away into fantasy, dreams and escapism, the astral and mental realms, eventually leading to self undoing, spiritual liberation and transcendence of the physical realm. The two – being here now and transcendent bliss – are obviously polarised from a human point of view, but the polarity they express is unified in the magicians’ awareness because being focused in the physical now is the point of access to magical and mystical awareness and objective perception. This is reflected in the initial lessons of IIH, in which Bardon begins students out on the simultaneous processes of introspection (12th temple) and awareness of the mundane moment and care for the body in physical life (6th temple) during the first step. So it is fundamentally about the relationship we have to walking a physical path as more than physical beings and the process by which existences are tied together through the essential lessons they impart about the mundane and spiritual.

Concepts: Meditation, mysticism, reflection, isolation, chronic or mysterious illnesses, failures, closure, what happened to mum when we were in the womb, redemption, salvation, redemption, sacrifice, martyrdom.

Ancient terms: Malus Spiritus, Bad Spirit, Pre- Ascension of the Hour Marker, Place Between Worlds.



The Temples (Part 2)

Greetings, and welcome back to Journeys! This month we continue looking at the houses, discussing the 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th.


The 5th Temple: Joy, Creativity, Self Expression and Luck.

Location: The 5th temple is a space half way between the nadir of the sky and the western horizon. This means it is a completely non-visible area of the sky that is always below the horizon and out of view.

Discussion: At the 5th temple our tour of the temples has traveled over one quarter of the way around the wheel of the chart and this means that we are approaching the second of the 3 temples focused on pure existence, life and being (the first such temple was the 1st), and it is a place where that light of being is expressed as spontaneous joy and fun. It is worthy of deep reflection that such a place as the Temple of Joy and Pleasure exists alongside a temple for acquisition, memory, being and communication. Fun, or leisure, is just as fundamental an ingredient in life experience as any of these things are. In fact it is something vital, as the temples of existence – the 1st, 5th and 9th – are fundamentally about the experience of being alive.

The 5th temple is a place of joy, co-creation and pleasure and it develops and harmonises with the expression of the previous temple of spirit or existence, the 1st, by channel ling self identity through our creative outpouring of the life force, securing our procreative and co-creative life essence in acts, so its core aim is ‘Security of the Awareness of Existence’, a search for some kind of affirmative display and sharing of the creative potential of our own truly unique inner light through an emanation of it into the world. Whereas in the 1st the task is simply to be who we are in the 5th the task is to create who we are, to externalise who we are as some kind of creative output. It is a region that often naturally aspects the ascendant by trine (120 degrees, a harmonious, flowing aspect) and is a succeedent temple (temples 2, 5, 8, and 11 are succeedent temples because by primary motion objects are succeeding to or moving to one of the places of power, the Angular temples) therefore any natal planetary occupants tend to experience a slow but steady re-vitalising climb in energy through the course of life (this only applies to the occupants of a temple, not their rulers, so Mercury is only succeedent if it is inside a succeedent temple, not if it rules one.). In the 5th objects get charged up by our inner creative light and take form in our creations. This is the temple of The Art, the temple of creative power in which our lives become our creations. This is why the ancients called this temple the ‘Good Fortune’ (for it is indeed a great fortune bestowed on us by life) and attributed it to matters of mundane (earthly rather than spiritual) luck and chance. It has some connection then with reputation, with fame, lucky wins, notability and notoriety, especially for entertainers, gigolos, lovers and sports enthusiasts, but really it is fundamentally about securing a sense of joy in life by expressing our own uniqueness brilliantly to the world. It proclaims “I exist, and I am uniquely creative in this way…”

The 5th temple on the surface then is simply about fun and creativity; it contains and gives active expression, identity and meaning to all our procreative and artistic efforts, from the birth of children to love affairs to competitions, practical jokes, art, sports, our natural talents and hobbies and dramatic or theatrical gifts. In no other area of life do we connect with the radiant feeling of being alive so directly and vitally than in the 5th. It’s why countries go crazy ape shit with happiness when they win the world cup. LIFE IS MEANT TO BE FUNDivine Providence has gifted each created thing with the capacity to enjoy all of creation. This is why the 5th is so fundamental a part of life experience, along with communication and memory and the other temples. When there are problems in this temple, the whole chart can suffer as the joy of life is felt to be missing. We can feel very dead inside and cursed with bad luck when the creative spark is dim. Usually it becomes this way because we do not nurture it like the child it is. Our child. It has to be regarded as if we were its parent.

As a temple which creatively expresses our unique experience of existing it is more objective than the 1st because the 1st temple planets are right in front of our nose, so to speak, and we can suffer from not being able to see the woods for the trees, we are them, whereas planets in the 5th are not so entwined with our identity but more with what it creates, though 5th temple influences can still become factors in our displays of ego through our expression of creativity and self confidence, especially in the form of a desire for fame and praise. Our creativity allows us some objectivity on our own identity, so there is greater objectivity on ourselves in this temple than in the 1st temple as we can externally perceive ourselves in our creative acts, but this objectivity can make disruptions here have greater effects on our sense of the joy of being alive since we will equate it more with fortunate and unfortunate external effects and conditions – ‘luck’, the ‘slings and arrows of outrageous fortune’ which either crush our creations or exalt them (with the danger that the ego will identify itself with its creations and grow self important). In this sense, working with the 5th temple can feel like falling in love or being heartbroken. In fact, those well known states are often very much to do with things stirring in the 5th. The joy of this temple is Venus, for here her essential meaning is strengthened by location in a region of sky that is fundamentally suitable to her principles, specifically, that of pleasure and romance, art and fun.


In summation, because the successful and fortunate outcome of any creative effort is always joyous and uplifting for the human spirit this temple concerns our self confidence as well as our capacity to have fun, kick back, and amuse ourselves with recreation, hobbies and games, leisure time, sport, theatre, entertainment or art. In astrology it is therefore consulted in matters relating to ones own co-creations, our joys, creative acts, our children (and thus our fertility and issues involving pregnancy and parenthood) and in any matter in connection with fame, fun, games of luck and fortune, risk taking (which makes us feel alive) or following bliss, such as pleasurable hobbies and romantic flirtation and love affairs, gambling fortune and dating, but above all and most fundamentally, it is important to turn to whenever we are neglecting ourselves or life feels dull or overwhelmed with sorrows. Its planets and its key are the ones we should turn to when we cannot smile. The quest of the 5th temple is simply to live a happy and joyful existence and to express our unique creative power.

To truly know the joy of being alive and to unleash our creativity we have to express the highest creative power of:

1) The sign that opens this temple
2) The ruler of that sign
3) Any objects within the 5th temple, whether that be a natal placement or a temporary one

The secrets of the art of living are enacted here, and when we tap deep into them the inspiration is endless. Often we will sabotage this temple in the same way that we sabotage the inner child within us – we discipline it too much and keep it hidden away, because as every performer knows you make yourself vulnerable when you step into the spotlight. Yet this vulnerability is most often rooted in our need to impress the audience, and vanishes almost entirely when we focus on the creative flow, the art, the muse that is playing with us. Thats when we become extremely powerful, because we can allow the creation to happen without editorial gatekeeping – we become the creative power. Aside from this another major challenge of this temple is that we need to unlock our own point of contact with that creative power, a task which often involves ridding it of the narratives and stories of other creators. We have to overcome the tendency to copy our icons and heroes in order to reach our own creative inspiration. Its only when we do this that, magically, other people start to take notice because we are triggering in them their own embrace of their unique creative power – this is the greatest gift we can give to others through this temple.

Concepts: The art of living, eminence, creative self expression, dating and romance, gambling, fun and hobbies, leisure and sport, games, theatre and entertainment, fortune, procreation, our children.

Ancient terms: The Good Fortune, Place of Good Doing, Place of Freed Slaves.


The 6th temple: Purification, Service, Daily Work, Apprenticeship, Skills

Location: The 6th temple is located just below the western horizon and is the place where everything in the sky goes to after it is seen to set and is no longer visible. It is therefore the place where the planets, Lights and stars visibly sink into the Earth like celestial seeds.

Discussion: At this point in our journey through all 12 temples which began at the eastern horizon (1st temple) and sank below it traveling through the non-visible portion of sky, first reaching the nadir at the 4th temple and then beginning to rise, we are now approaching the western horizon from underneath. This is the invisible region where planets and the Sun go after they completely set in the west, where they are buried like seeds each day by the turning of the Earth. It is the temple of physical service – the planets essential meaning is being absorbed into the Earth to be broken down and employed in natural processes, it is moving into the soil and the Plant and Elemental Realm, producing remedies – and it is the temple of the purification of flaws, a place where planetary energies tend to swiftly discorporate and become disembodied, just as the Suns light does when it sets here. The essential focus for the 6th temple is simply ‘Physical Awareness Learning’ but this simple phrase hides a complex set of expressions in human experiences. Here is where we learn to treat the physical body itself as a temple that receives Divine input and so discover the daily practices that are involved in maintaining it.

The cadent temples – the 3rd, 6th, 9th, and 12th – are traditionally the ‘weakest’ places in the sky because by primary motion they are places where planets and the Sun and Moon go after they have been in the places of power, the 1st, 4th, 7th and 10th. What is really meant by this is that the objects in these regions are undergoing processes which tie up their energies, usually dissipating their effectiveness to some degree, draining them of substance but resulting in a learning experience. Thus they are busy places of learning. The 6th is the place where this learning is focused physically. It is not a place of high ambition (the 10th temple is that place) – here instead is the temple where we learn how to feed, clothe, clean and care for ourselves and other people in material terms and set about doing what needs doing to tend to such essential necessities. This is a temple that is grounding and habit forming for us. It is a place of apprenticeship, a place where we hone our skills.

Our learning process in respect of life in the material realm takes place chiefly through the acquired skills we develop and employ in daily acts of service and the toil we undertake in service to others and self while we are embodied here (any work and employment which does not directly further our ultimate goals – as noted above, those goals are symbolised by the 10th temple instead), also through our repetitive experience of humdrum routines (washing, cleaning, repairing), the mundane requirements of modern corporeal life, and through our experiences with the debility of health and the necessities of being tasked with the regular maintenance of a physical body (food, fitness, the prevention of and treatment of illness). All these areas embody the chief matters of the 6th temple.

Today this learning manifests in a truly vast variety of human expressions such as the countless fads in food and diet, physical illness and injuries sustained by accidents, toil and labour, workers rights and our employment of others (our servants and people we pay for services; in ancient days, also our slaves (with slavery in the ancient world being a matter of both the 6th and 12th houses), trade unions (in ages past, guilds), skills (practised abilities, rather than innate talents), tenants, hygiene and daily routine, servitude, any kind of daily work which holds little or no promise of advancement to our ulterior goals (scrubbing the kitchen dishes, cleaning the windows, taking out the garbage), the countless variety of remedies for the little things that ail us, our relationship to work colleagues, daily rituals, relations to pets and other small animals, and to cattle and farm animals, to name but a few. Along with poor maintenance of the body, work stress, unemployment and anxiety over day to day issues are fundamental causes of poor health and the 6th temple expresses this reality. There is a strong connection between the state of our health and the toil and labour we undertake every day.

The connection to small animals (‘pets’) and farmland animals is often taken as a “master and servant” relationship when in reality animals are far more than our servants and have much to teach us about material life. The truly magical expression of this temple towards domesticated animals is in allowing them to be what and who they are and respecting their spirit as equal, not training them to do whatever we command or using them as resources without respect, although some lines of communication must always be established within appropriate boundaries. In other words, our human perception of animals must often be purified of arrogant, superior human attitudes toward ‘lesser’ life forms in order to permit the magic to flow.

Some animals, though, have taken it upon themselves to gently remind us of our true significance…


Mars has its joy in this temple not really because it accentuates his malevolence and ability to injure and sicken or because he indicates some form of enforced slavery as traditional books may indicate, but more because his energies and drive are given a regular outlet and because he gives such people a lot of energy to get their backs into labour at repetitive hard work, or for healing (many surgeons will have a prominent Mars here for example). Mars in this temple is also often a robust boon to physical repair or body strengthening – the blood is ruled by Mars and when found in the 6th, being ‘sunk’ into the flesh, Mars commonly purifies it via heat and more robust circulation, giving the cells of the body greater fighting spirit and empowering the muscular system. Being born with Mars in the 6th temple also busies our daily life and the drive of our will in helping other people, a focus which undermines the tendency of Mars to act selfishly, and at a more metaphysical level the cutting edge of what defines us as individuals (Mars) is what we achieve not for ourselves but for the benefit of other individuals. These are the real reasons Mars is given joy in this temple.

So the 6th temple represents all fields of life where we learn about the day to day realities of being in our body and in a physical world and so try to do things to keep it fit and running – it is where we learn about our basic physical condition and through this learning perform some kind of act of material service, a helpful contribution to or even a purification of physical matter. We get up early in the morning to bake bread for the town, we take the dog for a walk, we clean up the living room for guests, etc. It is more than our sweat and time that we must learn to physically give, as the Prophet of Orphalese in the well known book by Kahlil Gibran said –

“Work is love made visible….for if you bake bread with indifference, you bake a bitter bread that feeds but half man’s hunger”. –  Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet

The ancient world was not a very comfortable or easy world in which to try to make a living or even to physically survive day by day. Plagues, quakes, fires, floods, storms, famines, droughts, wild animals, insurrections and all kinds of troubles assailed daily life, and there was little to nothing in the way of support when calamity fell, as it regularly did. Struggle, toil, hardship and the danger of being eaten by a hungry or pissed critter were widespread. There was frequently nothing to stop someone else claiming your body and using it as a commodity in the slave markets, especially if you were a woman. Most people had to find water every day. Hard won stocks spoiled easily. So in the ancient world this temple is called The Bad Fortune, because the facts of life were far harsher. Today, such ill fortune still exists for billions of people all over the world and ancient world slavery is still very much alive and well, contrary to popular belief – its just less visible in polite society – but modern astrology focuses on sickness and the drudgery of being a wage-slave as the chief misfortunes of this temple. Like all the temples this place is really neither good nor bad, troubles come from anywhere and there are many blessings to be found in each of the houses. We can see illness as a bane, or we can see it as a signpost calling for healing. A true healer has experienced pain and been healed. My mum, on the advice of my nan, let me play in the dirt. This was very wise as I grew stronger in constitution. My immune system was also made stronger after the measles, the chickenpox, and who knows what else. Your day job might suck the life out of you, but it pays for all your stuff, staves off hunger and thirst and puts clothes on your skin. So there is something of a trade-off in this temple and our attitude to that is important in terms of how much ‘bad fortune’ we will draw from it. I have met people crippled in wheelchairs with less ‘bad fortune’ than some healthy millionaires I have known. They might complain endlessly about their daily troubles, while the person in the chair has had to purify and transcend them. Trouble is character building, and taking the easy short cut is not always wise – ask the sorcerers apprentice!

Concepts: Daily chores, routines, skills, our employees, co-workers, apprenticeship, illness (diagnosis and/or remedy of health problems), services, animal companions.

Ancient terms: The Bad Fortune, Place of Slaves, Place of Sickness and Troubles.


The 7th Temple: Partnership, Contract, Rivalry and Polarity.

Location: The 7th temple lies directly above the western horizon and is the first of the temples in these articles to be a completely visible area of the sky.

Discussion: This visibility shifts the focus from the private world of the individual (1-6) firmly into the court of the public areas of experience, the areas of life the rest of the world has a window on. They don’t see our family interaction, our creativity, our bank account, our state of health or our thoughts, or if they do its because something is up there and we are showing something that is usually private. From the 7th to the 12th temple, the houses are now about things that have more of a public edge to them. The heart of the private sphere is in temple 4, while the heart of the public sphere is the 10th.

Importantly, the quality of light now shifts too – if we are born in the night hours then the Sun has to be in the 1st – 6th temples, so that temples 7-12 will be without daylight, and conversely if we born in the day the Sun must be in temples 7-12, filling them with daylight, so that temples 1-6 are dark. Every chart is half light and half dark. The light of the Sun will then fill an entire hemisphere of the chart, indicating more of a broad life focus on public or private experience. If the placement of planets reinforces this, for example if all of our planets are above the horizon including the Sun, then that hemisphere becomes super emphasized and the other one is often underdeveloped.

So the 6 temples following govern realms of life which are more public and in general nature they involve the notion of public self and attitude to dealings with others (above the horizon), rather than focusing on the inner realms and personal resources of the private self (below the horizon). This temple therefore introduces the concept of temporal polarity, the stark difference between night and day, internal and external, private and public, self and other. It is the place where night and day exchange evening kisses in the twilight, where I become you and you become me and together we become something new. Its magic is a measure of our ability to co-operate with another.

This is the temple of partnership or relating and its key phrase could be described as ‘Mental Awareness in Action’. The mental awareness or mental body joins with whatever it focuses itself on. Through our interactions, partnerships and face to face relationships with others we learn about our own way of thinking, communicating and being and see ourselves reflected in the thoughts we think about others and the faces they present to us. Our face to face relationships are mirrors. The intellectual and social dimensions of this temple encompass our intimate relationships as well as our business partners and open opponents (known enemies and rivals, competitors etc.), because all face to face relationships are reflections of our own thinking processes, our conscious and unconscious awareness. This region of the sky is the place where our spirit of being is reflected in the people we pair with, who are in turn drawn to us for mutual contact in mental and social experiences, but it is also descriptive of the way we relate to relating itself.

More technically, the spirit or mental body has a component which is analogous to the Earth Element which Bardon calls the ‘I – Consciousness’, the mental awareness of the being as a discrete and physical self (this does not mean that the 7th temple is always ‘Earth Element’ because in the section under discussion Bardon is talking about the pristine Elements of the universal mental body, the spirit, and the astrological chart is a map of the soul). This ‘I Consciousness’ contains and gives form to all the other Elements of the spirit through its binding cohesion of the spirits intellect, will, and feelings and operates as a transceiver on the timeless mental planes, thereby materially attracting and binding to us other mental qualities – other minds and ideations – ‘Others’ – according to its maturity and development. Whatever we identify our Self with must, due to the law of polarity, have an opposite which is not identified with Self, but like two sides of the same coin or night and day these two concepts express a singular meaning or idea and are thus inseparable. What we see in others we must first have within ourselves and then see reflected in them in mirror form. If we think someone is jealous it must first belong to us on some level, otherwise how could we re-cognise it when it comes? Further, since within the mental plane like attracts like, having thoughts attracts experience to us that is similar in nature to that thought; it attracts to itself that which complements it. That is the deeper mystical meaning of the biblical words ‘Love thy neighbour as thy Self’. It is the understanding that we are all connected as unified expressions of the Eternal, and seeing this in its infinite variety as everyone and everything we interact with. Mind is One Mind, with an infinite number of unique facets, each refracting the light of singular awareness into infinitely varied prisms. This temple is positioned to teach us this truth and to explore it through our primary and most significant personal relationships. Simply put, it is the temple where we learn to walk in the shoes of an infinite multitude of others and to see the world from their perspective, as well as explore the mystery of how we open the doors that invite them to do the same, either with us or with other people in their lives.


Thus, this temple – and so all human relationships, not just those we have with a singular but significant other – serve as a reflective mirror of being (a mirror of the 1st temple) in external forms which change shapes and appear as different ‘others’, different partners and opposite numbers who are drawn to us as complementary forces by the radiation of our whole Self and yet are also discrete and independent embodiments of awareness in themselves, drawing us to them at the same time but from within their own centre. There is much more meaning and wisdom in the old adage “When the student is ready the teacher will appear” than is at first apparent, but we might also say “When the teacher is ready the student will appear”.

When we say “This is who I am, this is my identity” we are speaking from the 1st temple, but this identification automatically imply an Other which we are not – “that is who you are” – which is to say, something we actually are in truth, because it is shown in our 7th temple, but we do not recognise it being so because we do not identify our own being with it, it becomes something ‘others are’. These others then seem to complete us.

Deeper thought on this reveals that identity does not take on mental form without another for a reference point. Many people experience this as a person who complements them, but for a magician, who must be whole in and of themselves, this is not satisfactory and a deeper exploration is required in order to own the projections and experience the partner objectively, as they truly are, as well as to own the whole self so that it can be gifted to them. This is sometimes called clearing the air in relationships. Others call it chemistry, the kind we commonly experience between people but which can also apply to things, places and concepts – it is possible to fall in love with an idea and to marry oneself to that idea for life. All are appropriate views of what the 7th temple is about, but 95% of the time people gravitate to another human being who can mirror their own complexity to them.

Although its form is as infinitely varied as the variety of individuals who come into being, the purpose or intention of this process is always the same: to relate to others in a way which fully expresses our own uniqueness and in a way that the uniqueness of the other person (or thing) can open itself up to, thus creating a mutual enhancement of both identities. We have to know ourselves and be ourselves (1st temple) and at the same time allow partners to be themselves, adapting our own uniqueness so that it can be understood by theirs, which means we have to know what their needs are too (7th). This is what ‘making love’ really is – two people consciously engaged in this process: I am loving you in the unique way that I have to give my love and in a way that your unique way of receiving love can appreciate, and vice versa. Its what elevates having sex to spiritual communion and connection.

So this temple describes our marriage partners, known enemies or major rivals in public life, the type of people we are attracted to and attract, and our associations (often unto death), because who we are attracted to, the quality that draws us to them, is precisely that quality which we ourselves feel a lack of – or antagonism towards – within our self projection or being; that is, it is the opposite quality to that of the ascendant, and thus a quality that is not easily recognised by or as the Self in the now moment and is thus sought for externally in others – a lesson in polarity. The 7th temple is a ‘mental magnet’ that pulls people into a close orbit of our chart and so these people offer us what we have denied ourselves while at the same time receiving from us that which they need. Yet more than that it is also a way we have of interacting with entities who we perceive to have a life outside of our awareness, so for a magician it has important connections to evocation as well as the wandering of the mental body.

If the 7th temple and its ruler is well supported, essentially and/or accidentally dignified and with easy to handle aspects, and no occupant of the 7th temple objects and overturns this, the chart typically has its general wishes for partnering heard easily and so this will come more smoothly. If all of these conditions applying to the ruler and occupants of the 7th show a lack of support – the 7th ruler has no essential or accidental dignity, no harmonising aspects and nothing in the 7th temple provides any of these either, then it means that even finding someone compatible to be with can present dramatic problems and relationships in general are fraught with complications and difficulties because they are necessary learning experiences. A Light or planet in the 7th temple will have an even more powerful role to play in this, because planets in this temple are often more manifest than the ruler is, especially when close to the opening degree. Still, with a well placed ruler of this temple we will more likely attract marriage and business partners who work well with us rather than known enemies who spur us on by challenging and competing.

It should also be explained here that, as has been noted earlier, this temple introduces polarity. It should be obvious from a study of the 1st and 7th temples that the cusps of these places delineate the primary way the chart has of expressing the total complex of the Self into the world, through the quality of the identity and the interactions it forms with others. The 1st is “my outlook on my self” and the 7th is “my outlook on other people”. Together they form a fundamental polarity, one that underpins our entire existence. The other temples also polarise in a similar fashion, though they are far less fundamental:

Polarities in Astrology

  • Self (1st) and Others (7th) – the identification polarity
  • Holding (2nd) and Releasing (8th) – the sensual polarity
  • Thinking (3rd) and Believing (9th) – the cognitive polarity
  • Memory (4th) and Aspiration (10th) – the temporal polarity
  • Making (5th) and Sharing (11th) – the co-creative polarity
  • Grounding (6th) and Transcending (12th) – the essential polarity (as in essence)

In the zodiac the Elements are arranged in the following scheme:

  • Fire polarises with Air
  • Water polarises with Earth

Please note that the Elements of astrology are arranged with Fire opposing Air, not Water, and that Water opposes Earth, not Fire. I call the (non-astrological) oppositions of Fire-Water and Air-Earth a magical opposition, and the astrological type of Fire-Air, Water-Earth a natural opposition. The difference between them is that a magical opposition of the Elements involves Elements of two differing Fluid qualities (it is either an Electric/Magnetic, or Neutral/ElectroMagnetic pairing) and a natural opposition involves Elements of a similar Fluid quality (Electric/Neutral or Magnetic/ElectroMagnetic). Looking at the symbols for the Elements this is clearer:

sign_firesign_air Fire and Air have a bias to upward pointing Electric Fluid

sign_watersign_earth Water and Earth have a bias to downward pointing Magnetic Fluid

So why is the zodiac arranged in a natural opposition of the Elements (similar Fluid) rather than a magical opposition (different Fluid)? The reason is because the origin of the zodiac and its formulation is tied to nature, to the cycle of the natural seasons marked off by the four major stations of light in the calendar year, which also rotate the Elements in a natural opposition sequence:

  • Fire (Aries, Spring Equinox)
  • Water (Cancer, Summer Solstice)
  • Air (Libra, Autumn Equinox)
  • Earth (Capricorn, Winter Solstice)

Another way to say this is that a natural opposition emphasises the Fluids while a magical opposition emphasises the Elements. The natural opposition sequence is rotating, while the magical sequence is radiating in nature. The alternating triangles of the natural opposition sequence of the Elements are more stable and cohesive than the magical opposition sequence, which is more energy releasing, more explosive.

The polarity of the 1st-7th I will call the ‘identification polarity’. This polarity encompasses the concept of what we identify with both in ourselves and in others. The Elements in control of this axis and the factors connected to it will contribute to revealing:

1) The Fluid which is most identified with.
2) The personal qualities we identify with.
3) The relative stability of our identity, i.e. whether it changes frequently or almost never.
4) The processes involved in forming identifications.
5) The basic Elemental qualities of all our relationships.

Concepts: Partnership, co-.operation, empathy, contracts, rivalry, every kind of significant other, from business partner to the love of your life.

Ancient terms: The Setting Place, The Dying Place (many ancient thinkers associate the 7th with death and the end of life, rather than the 8th).

chiang-mai-1670926_1920 (1)

The 8th Temple: Release, Hidden Power, Rebirth, Compulsion, Debt.

Location: The 8th temple is a region of the sky about midway between the western horizon and the midheaven of the sky.

Discussion: Although this is a realm of sky above the horizon it is one with a reputation for growing darkness and concealment because when the Sun reaches this place each day its light begins to fade as it sinks into the twilight of the west and the shadows begin to lengthen, especially in winter. As the area which marks the creeping approach of twilight and the dawning of the night the 8th house is the temple of release in which life lets go of the day, governing the ending of things in loss and death but also rest and hence peace. It is also a magical temple in which shadows become animated and lengthened. Its essence is occulted and astral, related to the 4th and 12th temples in that it is also, like they are, somewhat mysterious and deep, each being concerned with matters that are concealed. Each of these temples lead to arenas of life which unlock the most secreted experience, the most hidden and occluded aspects of our awareness where things must first be detected before they can be transmuted, transcended or grown through in order to become personal gold (consciously realised), infused with their own concealed power. This action of wilfully transmuting the Elements of the soul is the heart of the modern perspective on the 8th temple, its key being ‘Awareness of Astral Security’.

What does this mean? It means realising – really knowing in every fibre of your soul – that you are ok and that when you die your awareness will not. It means being at peace with your deeper (feeling) self and with physical mortality and releasing compacted emotional traumas from the tortured places they hide away in. It means letting go of the inhibiting darkness of repression, guilt and shame and casting off our emotional baggage, being ready to face and process what needs to be changed in our psyche, and it often represents something we do not want to give up or go through and have an innate resistance to even looking at but find secretly or even shamefully compelling, something perhaps that is for us taboo, forbidden, but promises great ecstasies as its mystery is unveiled. Hence it is the temple of our sexuality but is also the temple of death (our experience with people dying, and eventually our own death) because it is where things go for regeneration and recycling. The most ancient texts on astrology which survive assert that the 8th temple is not the only temple which has strong ties to death, but the others have fallen out of favour in modern times. The 4th temple is associated with death through its connection with things which are beneath the Earth, hence the grave and the consequences following death. The 7th temple begins at the western horizon, where the Sun sets, and so visually it represents the end of life, nominally in old age. The 6th and 12th temples were also always looked on as abodes of unfortunate or evil occurrence that could result in death. These were more superstitious times. Additionally, the ancient texts make no connection of the 8th temple with sexuality – this is a modern (and somewhat controversial) addition that emerged with the arrival of Pluto. It lies opposite the temple of acquisitions and is all the experiences we have of letting things go, of giving them up – surrendering even – and so of sharing with others. So it shows what we must relinquish in ourselves and with other people, or what we must somehow completely let go of to uncover a deep hidden power within us far beyond that attachment, an encounter that transforms and offers rebirth on a deep emotional level and the experiences which can lead to this. We can say that above the 8th temple is written the phrase ‘Emergency Exit’ and that it avails us an instinctive way out of situations that have outlived their usefulness, often a final way out.

But leaving is often laced with sorrow and regret and the matters of the 8th strips away the superficial layers we have cloaked our deeper feelings in to reveal what is wriggling underneath. So the 8th temple involves us in the journey of feeling more and more deeply and thus securely through connecting with and exploring our own (largely hidden) psychic-emotional and psycho-sexual drives and complexes, especially those related to the 8th temple – death wishes, grief, orgasm and the onset and approach of all kinds of irreversible endings in the world around us, trauma and tragic losses which evoke deep inner demons that confront us with feelings we must give up but don’t really want to surrender or face because we feel powerless against them, through the compulsions or lusts of sexual energy and the private sex life, in material and emotional resources lost or given away to others (taxes, debts, things stolen or favours owed, wrongs done to us), the flowering and the development of occult faculties of the soul and its penetration into the deep mysteries of our own innate magical power. This is the sometimes macabre and unsettling garden of the temple of release.


Its function is different from the preceding astrally focused temple, the 4th, in that its task is to secure a quality of tranquil rest for the soul not by working through or outgrowing habits ingrained in it by the past, but by separating or weeding out – often violently culling – those parts that are no longer valuable to its present security or growth, however painful and grievous that might be; it volcanically purges deep emotional substance, thereby consigning the old of the soul to a regeneration rather than to habitually acting out on the impulses that found its existence. “That which does not kill us makes us stronger”, wrote Nietzsche (who was born with Cancer over the 8th temple and its ruler the Moon rising in the 1st in Sagittarius – which is actually a hopeful and comforting outlook). And it differs from the 12th temple in that here in the 8th there will always be an often traumatic or at least difficult experiential process, a purge or transmutation to move through, a demon to face so that the power within will rise to meet it; with the 12th temple, there is the possibility of an absolution, an immediate transcendence from karmic entanglements; not so here. Here, we have to go through something visceral and intensely tumultuous often because we must give it up, let it go, but feel too attached to things the way they are or are afraid to surrender to its power, which is to say, to our own literally undying power. This is the place where we scare ourselves as we discover what we are capable of, which is always so much more than what we expected. It is also the place where things have to rot and decay, decomposing into sticky substances before they are regenerated. It seems to be a place of horrors, until we look deeper.

So it is an emotionally visceral temple. Here in the 8th, grief, pain and loss are inherent aspects of life itself that must be felt so that the process of purging or releasing the infinitely hidden can emerge. Often this purge is a frightening or even grievous journey because it involves confronting some of the deepest and most troubling aspects of self and our sense of power and, more significantly, powerlessness. Things left overflowing or hemorrhaging from previous lives often end up here. Things left undone or incomplete belong more to the 12th temple.

Just as the light of the Sun begins to wane when it reaches this temple so too do the influences of other planets, they surrender or release control to a transformative process that causes their energy to begin draining by flowing from one state into another – they yield to the horizon of the Earth and prepare to rest upon Her bosom. The Sun dims and falls faster and faster from its height as it moves through this region in the space of each day and as it does it bleeds spectacular colours into the sky. Thus in the texts we find that this temple shows things that are in spillage – either completely out of our direct control, in decay or decline – the inevitable approach of death (of self and others), debts, inheritance, taxation, emotional trauma, victimisation and abuse, the threat of oblivion (fear of armageddon, rape, murder, suicide), our taboos and in modern astrology our inner (often secret) sexuality – this temple is our (often concealed) sexual potency and drive, with our more conscious, openly flirtatious, procreative sexual energy and our degree of fertility belong to the 5th temple. Ancient texts would have sourced all eroticism in the 5th and with the sign Scorpio (as well as Taurus, but less so), and with Venus and Mars. It is also the place of our magical and occult (hidden) power, separation and loss, situations in which our loss becomes another’s gain, etc. All these things are connected here and call for some kind of surrender of our need to control and retain attachment to what we have, emotionally and materially. In essence this temple is an arena whose champions hold the key to understanding and perceiving the purpose of mortality and the nature of what we must give up to experience renewal at the deepest level, for the empowerment of the soul.

All the matters of this region heighten or intensify our astral awareness and put us in touch with potent emotional compulsions and a deep power to deal with attachments and control mechanisms which we need to outgrow, but this requires detection and probing of our deeper motives. Things are never just what they appear to be here. A chart with an emphasis on the 8th temple (natally or through its keys) will need to let go of an over-attachment to some physical or more often emotional things (often shown by planets here) and will either do this via the areas described above or a mix of them, and the sign here will colour our experience and assign its ruling planet these duties in the chart according to the maturity of the soul and what is necessary for its astral growth. But the sign also gives a key quality to use in effecting a deep transfiguration of the self through the separating out and transforming of inner qualities. Master this temple through its sign and planetary occupants and ruler and you experience a profound rebirth and discover your own hidden power. You exit the darkness in ways that will ripple throughout your lifetimes, forever. What other temple offers so great a treasure?

The axis of the 2nd/8th temples – which I define as the sensual polarity of ‘holding-releasing’ – is often associated with income and sex. That is, astrologers often talk about these two temples as being connected to financial and sexual affairs and the level of physical and astral security in our lives that these create. So it signifies a polarity connected with give and take, but fundamentally both the 2nd and the 8th concern themselves with building some kind of security, the 2nd in primarily a material form, the 8th in an astral. Both of these temples can influence our inherent sense of self worth, the worth we hold in our physical body and in our souls. When we are in debt or financially impoverished, when we have been traumatized or feel abused, self worth tends to plummet.

But the sensual polarity, as the name I chose for it implies, is about more than just material and emotional security, it is about sensuality, physical and emotional give and take on all levels. The 2nd temple provides material substance for sensual experience, the 8th emotional substance. Fundamentally, these two temples are about our approach to physical and emotional sensual experience of all kinds, from eating to buying to having sex or making love, and all the baggage we bring to the enjoyment and use of these things. Money is just our common medium of measuring access to sensory experience, a form of permission.

Concepts: Transformation, death and rebirth, survival instincts, debt and lending/borrowing, sexuality, the occult, counseling, natures secrets.

Ancient terms: The Idle Place, Place of Death.

Thats all for this moon, I hope you have enjoyed it and learned something! Next Moonth, the final part. 

The Temples (part 1)

Greetings, and welcome back to Journeys! I have had repeated requests to say more about the 12 houses, and am planning a number of articles on the subject. Today I present the first part of a three part series on the houses (or temples as I call them) with parts 2 and 3 to follow in the coming months. I hope these will give learners at all stages something to think about. This month, temples 1-4 are under discussion.


The 1st Temple: Being, Identity, Embodiment, Beginnings.

Location: The area of the sky that lies directly below the eastern horizon, upon which all celestial objects arise. The Sun is here every day in the hours before dawn – dawn actually marks the climactic end of the Suns daily passage through the 1st temple, as its light begins breaking the surface of the world in the east, heralding a new day. 

Discussion: Arguably this is the most important of the 12 temples because it is the front door to the chart and our primary way of influencing the Earth Zone (physical universe) and being influenced by it. This marks the point of entrance into life, the doorway into existence in the temporal sequential realm. From a hermetic standpoint at the moment of birth the individual physical, astral and mental body of the newborn emerges from the body of the mother still connected to her on the mental and astral planes. The mental body of the newborn separates from her with its first breath, and the astral body – which is the core transeiver of the substance of astral Light described by our astrology – remains connected to hers and does not begin to form its own discrete body until the umbilical cord is cut. This is the moment we should really be using as ‘birth’ from an astrological perspective, but emergence into the external material world is just as significant (astrology being a measurement of significance) and additionally the time between the two events is usually only a few seconds, and it would be extremely unusual for this amount of time to make a significant difference to the chart (although it might actually be up to as long as 20m before the cord is cut, in which case there is an issue). 

The degree of the ascendant that rises in the east at the place and time of this event delineates the 1st temple. Another way of saying this is that at the moment in which we took our first breath and the cord was then cut there was a particular zodiac sign placed in the east, rising into the sky. With the east being magically associated with the breath of life and the dawn or creation of things, this sign is ‘in the air’ at that time, being born with us, and so we inhale its essential meaning with our very first gasp of oxygen, and all of its significance acts to ‘close up’ the hole that once connected us to our mothers astral, at which point we become seperate people. The brain chemistry is imprinted with the occult significance of that moment and place, but this is just a product of the deeper astral conditioning which occurs. The sign that is on the 1st temple and all the qualities connected with the 1st temple in our chart describe the atmosphere in the room at this moment in time and space, the qualities of the observers, the events, the location, the overall impression that was present and became bound to the first experience of physical life. Thus it is our earliest and most primary astrological influence. It represents an astra-mental doorway into the physical universe, the living now moment and our deeply sourced memory of that cord to our mother being cut. That’s why it is so sensitive – it marks the beginning of time and independent existence, the birth of our unique and independent being. It says “I AM!”, and so it harbors truly tremendous creative power.

Astrologically (in many houses systems at least) the 1st temple opens with the degree of the ascendant which is a particularly powerful degree in the zodiac being the degree at the eastern horizon at the place and time we are born, so the 1st temple or house is the temple to bodily life itself. Its degree marks the metaphorical ‘place’ in the Earth Zone through which, with the help of our parents, our spirit-soul infused and crystallised its essence into our material form with the intake of our first breath. It is in a sense like the navel in the physical body, but is more like a knot or twist that is posited in our astra-mental body, a locus of attention in their Elements and in space-time. Our face, bodily gait, mannerisms, primary method of expression, degree and form of interaction with the outer world, what we are willing to consciously admit or show to others, quality of self sustainability, our overall health (as it is known to us – not unknown conditions) and the projection of our total character are among the primary relevant analogies here.


More significantly, as the ascendant is the degree of the astrological zodiac rising on the eastern horizon at the moment you were born, the ascendant and to a degree the 1st temple are the symbolic ‘now’ moment in which you entered this world, the doorway through which you came into time, space and life, and this doorway is the framework or lens which you will always use in your perception of life and your expression of the total Self, the quality of ‘now’ moment in which your identity exists and is known to you (see this article by Leslie Polzer on the zodiac signs and the now moment). The ascendant and the 1st temple describe your experience of the now moment. This is a vital point to remember. As an angular temple (the 1st, 4th, 7th and 10th, the ‘turning points’ of the sky) the 1st denotes action – these are places where the astrology is often obvious and is directly encountered as a highly active influence –  and as part of the trinity of the temples of existence (1st, 5th & 9th) its essence is therefore well described as “Awareness of Existence in Action”. It is thus the Temple of Being or Life, and was anciently called the Temple of Mercury, the planet which joys here, signifying (to the ancient mind) its connection to our spirit taking temporal form (the joy of a planet is the temple it naturally flourishes in). Other descriptions for it are the helm of the chart, the hour marker or the place of ascension.

The helm is a nice Mercurial word that aptly expresses the navigational power of this place. Objects here become so intrinsically a part of our being that we literally identify the self with them and their powers – our form of being becomes a living incarnation of their presence, thus we become a kind of planetary personification and navigate by that planets beacons. Think of the word ‘avatar’ here – a manifestation of a deity or spiritual being in bodily form on Earth. We are wearing a wardrobe that befits the planet and its beings are pleased with this, drawn to it – perhaps to our detriment. Such planets or stars are (often literally) ‘in our face’ throughout life and assume significance on a par with the Sun sign, especially if the planet (or star) is close to the ascendant. As old mythologies of personal human contact and union with the gods will attest, this is not always a good thing and it is never easy. Even Venus has her curse in the form of unwanted admirers, though some planets are more difficult for us mere mortals to be avatars of. Powerfully placed planets, like those in the 1st, can literally overpower and devour our own identities. This is not to say they must be tamed and made obedient as if they were unruly pets or demons, it is to say that you must be aware of a power within you which threatens to easily overpower your other motivations and character traits and that you must be consciously aware of that within your identity before you can master its amazingly positive potential.

Even when no planets are present in this area of the sky our relationship or connection to the sign of the ascendant and the Element it belongs to along with that signs planetary ruler (and the planets temporarily moving through the 1st temple as time passes) all become critical in terms of our overall vitality, our appearance, health and the way we project the energies of the entire horoscope directly onto the world at large, as well as how we view the external world and experience the now moment. This sign, Element and its planetary ruler become very dominant in our nature even when no other influences enforce it. They are the ones who open the doorway into physical life for our soul. The planet ruling the ascendant is the overall designer of our physical life, informed by our karma and by Divine Providence. It opens the double doors of the horizon, and the universe pours in. 


For this reason this temple also has a direct relationship to our bodily wellbeing, our state of health. However, the analysis of health and the potential for illness in a chart is complex and involves many different considerations. The role of the 1st temple in health is in determining our conscious awareness of our well being, level of fortitude, our constitution and the conditions affecting our physical form which have a bearing on it such as our weight, bone structure, physique, etc. It also expresses our path to integrating the mental, astral and physical being into a consciously guided whole. The 1st temple provides us with vital powers with which to fight off disease and disturbance, so if there are strong planets here these can be used for self healing work, and sometimes also radiated to others through the aura, although this can be depletive and also result in transference of qualities we do not wish to transfer – we need a pure form of contact with that planet to conduct such healing safely.

In temple cycles we begin from the 1st temple because it has a direct connection to beginnings and the birth of things. When there are activations in the 1st temple key they result in not only changes to our identity but the new beginnings in life that naturally arise from such changes. Sometimes this happens in reverse, with changes in identity coming after major new life beginnings. We may try to figure out which causes what, but the truth is more that the true cause is an astral stimulus for a new beginning in life to take place, a new chapter to begin.

The trick with the 1st temple is to look within you seeking the connection you have with such influences (including the activators when they pass through here) and finding ways of bringing this awareness into the present moment of physical life. This increases the flow of you into life and thus the flow of life into you. You must work towards a place where these forces guide you in practical ways without leading to the self destructive pitfalls they can bring. This means you must raise your consciousness of them. For example, with Saturn you must introduce discipline but without becoming rigid, fearful, stern or inflexible, and you must try to embody the highest Saturnian virtues that you can. If you experience any of these negative things (being rigid, fearful, etc) disharmony in the health will be likely to follow, its a kind of indigestion as you are failing to absorb and process the raw essential meaning of the planet concerned and this leads to disruptions which attempt to clear the accumulated energy for you.

The sign that rises, the ascendant, will show the basic qualities we use to engage and interact with the world and its expression in our body form and astral aura, but these qualities will be slightly modified in most cases by the sign position of the planetary ruler of the ascendant and any planets in this temple or aspecting the ascendant.

Concepts: How we are seen by others, what we will admit to in ourselves, our image (hair, clothes, ‘look’), our mask, our constitution, our vitality, our mannerisms, our self expression, our way of interacting with the outer world, our general window of perception on life, our experience of the now moment. 
Ancient terms: hour marker, helm, place of ascension.


The 2nd Temple: Worth, Value, Resources, Gear

Location: The area of sky approximately midway between the eastern horizon and the ‘bottom of the sky’, the IC (see 4th temple).

Discussion: This temple lies further below the horizon than the 1st and following on from it, so it is completely below the horizon. It is therefore an invisible region of the sky connected with things that are earthly (of the ground) and relates to private (unseen and personal) experiences. The key emphasis of the 2nd temple is ‘Awareness of Physical Security’ and I call it the Temple of Acquisitions. It says ‘I HAVE’. We could also call it the temple of property, values, receiving, providence and, most fundamentally of all, self worth and self esteem. On the most basic level it is about what we have to call on in terms of resources, what we value and what we use, have access to and own and the relationship we have to our own innate self worth as a result of our experience with physical needs. If you cannot feed yourself then your self worth is also impoverished. It is thus also the temple that relates to all those issues we have about the resources and physical needs of our material existence. It governs our attachments to material and physical being, how comfortable we are with being in possession of the body and all that this means – its capacity for sensual fulfillment and satisfaction, the attitude to possession, our resources and resourcefulness, income and earnings, our acquisitive need for certain solid objects, material security, savings and money, our tangible need for sensual contact and the sense of values which underlies all these things – anything that our physical experience tells us we need (food, water, shelter) or want (that new gadget) to have and hold onto in order to be physically secure. Planets here are like physical attachments, they often manifest as objects we own, income or resources, but they always represent something we value. And this temple also governs our self worth, how valued we feel and why. No planet has its joy in this temple; it is equally supportive of all planets natures.

Magically, then, this temple has a connection with the subterranean world, literal and metaphorical, it’s a place where things are literally coming out of the ground. It’s a place where things are coming towards the 1st temple (our being and identity) by primary motion (daily rotation of the Earth which causes all planets to cycle in a clockwise direction through all 12 houses in 24 hours) and this gives it its association with possessions, property, land, wealth, and the connections to material objects we bring with us into this life, all of which are extracted from the land. They are all things that come to us from out of the ground and so wealth and property are described here. If we accept the doctrine of reincarnation then it is possible for treasured objects to remain in our hands for many generations – a family heirloom, for example, passed down to a young grandson from his grandfather, may have been passed down to that grandfather by that grandson when he was his grandfather, for example. Objects can stay in families or just in our own hands for generations, magnetized by the astral connection that people create with them.They may even be destroyed and reform as something different that expresses the same significance, essentially reincarnating, surviving with us because the ideas and feelings that they represent as objects remain strong and magnetically bound to our spirit. For example, a person who loves transportation may have a treasured horse in one life, a much loved carriage in the next, and a valued car in the present. What reincarnates along with us here is the idea or spirit of an object and the feelings that accompany its possession. Yet, none of these things ever really belong to us; they are their own, bound to us only by the value we have placed in them, and our recognition of this is the magic that transforms the experience we have in this temple. It invests meaning into the things we receive and teaches us our most valuable lesson with respect to the matters of this house: everything is alive.


All of this means the 2nd temple is primarily focused on the karma we have generated through experiences with being in a material body, specifically with wealth and poverty and the relationship these conditions have to the measurement of self esteem. If a person has powerful supportive influences in this temple it does not automatically make them prosperous and rich, but it does make them resourceful and it helps them to value themselves. If the influences in this temple are challenging and overbearing, it is because we have important lessons to learn about self worth and possibly karmic limitations on how much we can earn, perhaps so that we become more resourceful and learn how not to measure our self worth from what we own or earn. What is important in this temple, then, is not whether it shows whether we are going to make lots of money or be driven to material ruin, but what it reveals about what we find to be valuable and how much we recognize this as a part of our own inner nature. If we can see through the attachment to an object and perceive the attachment to the value that we see in that object and examine the value instead, we can perceive a map of the mind and soul in everything that we have surrounded ourselves with, a material representation of all the things we value, the feelings and thoughts they represent, and it is this that our astrology is revealing in the 2nd temple. The objects themselves act to secure this value in a form we can hold, touch and tangibly appreciate. They are material anchors for the significance we have invested into their essential meaning. Thus there is a tangible craving for the things represented by our astrology here, craving both for certain things and for a way of getting them.

This sensual, tangible craving is the tricky but juicy part of the 2nd temple to investigate– our senses are by their nature designed to gorge themselves on sensory input, our eyes are designed to see, our tongues to taste, our lips to kiss and our hands to hold. Our whole attitude to being in a physical body with all that implies is at the heart of this temple and when we perceive that we are also looking at what we value about it and thus what we value about physical life. For example, you might like a certain flavour of ice cream more than any other. When you examine that flavour and think about it, you find it says all kinds of things about you – perhaps you like the fruitiness and liveliness of mango, or the creamy cool of coconut. This is the 2nd temple and the entire mechanism of commerce and marketing is built upon it. In fact, consumerism blinds us to the true significance behind all these likes and dislikes and keeps us trapped in an endless hunger for more, better or next. This is a primary trap within the 2nd temple as it stands today.

Concepts: Possessions, manner or standard of living, attachments, receiving, self esteem, physical security, survival needs, stability, savings, resourcefulness, earning and spending habits.
Ancient Terms: Subterranean place, Gate of Hades, shadowy place


The 3rd Temple: Siblings, Messages, Neighbourhoods, Whispers in the Wind

Location: The 3rd temple is an area that lies to one side of the nadir, next to the bottom of the sky, and so it is another buried place, hidden from view near the base of things.

Discussion: The 3rd temple is the Temple of Communication or Perception and of Thought Kinship (in the sense of ideas being siblings of one another via the law of attraction on the mental plane), and its key concept is ‘Mental Awareness Learning’, or mental and social integration with the local environment through private personal perceptions. This integration and learning takes place through areas of intellectual and social activity such as reading, writing, gossip, neighbouring and chatting, our earliest schooling and the mental behaviour we develop from any brothers and sisters, cousins or other ‘neighbourly’ family members. It also signifies short and accustomed journeys such as those in the car or train and those modes of transport or the non-exotic trips we make regularly. It is essentially all the fields of experience where we gather information from the local environment which shape the perceptions of our individual mental body, the integration of the different perspectives of the local mental realm as they manifest in the physical Earth nearby, in our neighbourhood. This is similar to the essential meaning of the planet Mercury but as a temple this place forms experience for us to encounter in the world rather than substance which we encounter within and around us, but there is an overlap between them. Broadly speaking, if Mercury is the way we think and its temple position is where we do our thinking and what we think about, then our 3rd temple is more descriptive of why we think what we do and the processing of localised information we undertake. If both Mercury and the 3rd temple are pumped with influences we will simply think far too much and encounter the problems that arise from this. Thoughts will be streaming, random and restless until we learn how to empty the mind completely, and then the disruptive effects cease and the sheer creativity can be expressed in an empowering way rather than a way which exhausts and scatters. Perhaps the easiest way to conceptualise what the 3rd temple expresses is to say that this part of our astrology is the running commentary in our head, the voice that we alone hear that is constantly reporting and chattering away about what it is currently witnessing, whereas Mercury is more about how we will pick it all apart later. I have seen this born out in people who have Mercury in the 3rd, because they have the quick witted kind of mind that is able to think and analyse on the fly. 

This region, which lies below the horizon and thus out of sight like our thoughts, is traditionally the place of the joy of the Moon and the temple of written and verbal communication, thus of letters and messages and of learning through the application of endless speculation and observation, opinion and reason, curiosity, gossip, the latest scandal or juicy tattle, short or regular trips, experiences with siblings and people in the neighbourhoods we inhabit. Today we can add text messages, emails, tweets and other more modern forms of fast, disposable communication. It may seem strange to us that Mercury is not the planet that joys here. The Moons joy in this region can be traced back to its role as messenger of astrological effects – as a satellite (sister) of the Earth the Moon is the transceiver between Earth and the rest of the solar system and this function is given free and joyous expression by the 3rd temple. Just as Luna collects, shapes and transmits the influence of the planets, touching each in every possible way every month, so too does our mental awareness collect, shape and transmit the intelligences of the mental plane around us.


Another reason that the Moon joys in the 3rd temple is that very long ago the 3rd temple seems to have signified the influence of the private practice of religion and spirituality and (often but not always) the influence of a High Priestess and female wisdom in the community and the practise of lunar magic, thus it perhaps came to be known as the temple of the Moon Goddess for this reason. In other words it was about domestic and agricultural applications of spiritual wisdom, and so connected with midwifery and planting seeds. This also implies a connection to weather forecasting and the more traditional arts of divination that involve reading messages from clouds or birds in the sky. or the behaviour of wind. Its opposite, the 9th, is traditionally called the temple of the Sun God, the temple of solar worship. We can infer that this means that the 3rd temple can show our private spiritual and religious practices and the internal attitude we have to learning about the spiritual realms. The 3rd and 9th temples represent, for example, the complementary difference between book learning (3rd) and instruction by a guru or mentor at a temple (9th). Here in the 3rd there is also our long lost connection with nature spirits – the Tuatha de Danaan and the ‘little folk’, enshrined in the hearsay of folklore, to whom the Moon is as vital to life as the Sun is to us. In my experience it is by working with the 3rd temple that relations with these beings can be resumed, which means that you have to reopen the dialog with them which we closed ourselves off from (causing no small amount of offense, I might add).

The 3rd temple therefore polarises with the 9th temple (I will discuss polarity in the context of astrology in more detail in the discussion of the 7th temple). Where in the 3rd we learn information, opinion and facts, in the 9th we can place them in a broader context and hypothesize what they mean. Furthermore, because the 3rd temple influences our communicative mentality the forces in this region have an influence on the way we express our thinking, how we talk and speak and on the process of learning through communications (like our manner on telephones); and finally, since the nature of the mental plane itself is that like notions will attract one another, the 3rd temple brings us into contact with reflective images of our thoughts in the form of neighbours, and with a variety of different but sibling, twinned perspectives, – brother, sister (siblings are especially of the 3rd temple), next door neighbour, guy who bangs on the floor upstairs, book or magazine article, hidden faerie of the backyard who keeps unpegging your laundry – all of which are an emblematic representation reflecting our own conceptual thinking patterns back to us and allowing us to integrate them. But that doesn’t mean they are not alive and exist independently of us! Each of the mentally and socially focused temples – the 3rd, 7th and 11th – operate by this law of attraction on the mental plane but in different respects. The 7th focuses on our partners and face to face encounters; the 11th on our allies or groups with common ideals, our cohorts; the 3rd, virtually everyone else we encounter, even if we only hear their voices on the end of a phone line or receive regular spam email from them, but it specifically focuses on those we would call ‘brothers’ or ‘sisters’, regardless of blood ties.

In sum then, the 3rd temple is not only about the mysteries of why and how we communicate, the experience of schooling and early education and of siblings, but also of the mysteries of the mind, the magic of mental attraction whereby ideas which are like one another are drawn closer together, and the individuals task of finding a unique way to communicate their uniqueness to other minds. So it is the temple of sisterhood and brotherhood, the place where our activity on the mental plane is reflected in sibling relationships, the temple of communication where we discover our own power of mental transmission. The sign and Elemental and planetary qualities shaping life and expressing themselves through this region of the sky describe the activity and quality of our perception and our internal chatter, our ability to learn intellectually and interact socially at a local level and to grasp the connections between related notions.

Concepts: News, messages, book learning, study, regular or localised travel, siblings, neighbourhoods, covens, sacred places and nature spirits, means of conveyance of the mental body (mental wandering).
Ancient Terms: Place of the Goddess, Place of Brothers


The 4th Temple: Memory, Lineage, Domain and Anchoring

Location: The region of the sky directly below the observers position where objects are turning towards the horizon to rise again.

Discussion: This region is the nadir or bottom of the horoscope, the underbelly of the chart, and I call it the Temple of Memory because it is the cargo hold of our history. Like the 1st temple cusp of the temple of being, known also as the ascendant or rising sign, this is one of the angles of the horoscope, a primary temple of power (the power being referred to here is in terms of ability to impact the physical dimension):

• Being (1st temple)
• Memory (4th temple)
• Partnership (7th temple)
• Destiny (10th temple)

This reflects the quadrapolar magnet in the realm of experiences as it is principally through these four sensitive degrees of the Earth Zone that the essential meaning of astrological influences held by planets and signs is transmitted and made physically manifest as experience in each person’s life. Essentially, regardless of which Elements control them, these 4 temples are the places of output where astrological influences have their greatest effects. So, as a place of power, its degree is one of the four most sensitive degrees in the Earth Zone. It is called the Imum Coeli, or IC – Latin for “bottom of the sky”. It is the place where the planets are at the lowest point in the sky beneath the Earth, the realm of the midnight Sun, but are approaching the point at which they will begin to arise again towards the eastern horizon. In mythic language, it is the place where the gods come to rest before they begin their journey back to the world of people. This is the realm of the ancestors, whose bones our present world stands upon and whose dust is in the air. It is a place to tread quietly, softly and with reverence.

This is a deep region which has an effect on the early shaping of the astral body, ingraining it with habits formed (at least on the surface) from parental mimicry or rebellion when we are young children – our relationship to our guardians is the mundane basis upon which the characterisation of the personal astral body proceeds. Regardless of which Element controls it, the essential quality of the 4th temple is “Astral Awareness in Action”. It is the realm of emotional or astral memory and habitual programmed response patterns, our fundamental connection to the history of our own soul. This is largely an area over which we have no conscious control; if an impulse passes through the astral and we have a strong memory and feeling inculcated into us by our past which matches that quality (or kicks against it) then there is always reciprocation, an automatic conditioned response which arises from this root. The fundamentals of this conditioning are inherited mainly from the soul’s inherent memory of its past and its childhood upbringing, and as time passes we experience it as a process whereby our adult persona forms from out of this nascent embryonic state, often meeting with realities through unfolding degrees of maturity, or repression. However, as we grow older this temple also begins to resonate will all past issues which we have not resolved, and so it can factor in ‘history is repeating’ experiences.

For example, first, we dream of and play at being an astronaut and exploring all the planets in the solar system as children; this is our 4th temple materia. As we grow, and wizen to the realities involved, we probably don’t get to become an astronaut but we might get to become an astrologer instead, perhaps a meteorologist, maybe simply a cashier in a late night store. We might even forget entirely that we ever dreamed of being an astronaut, but it is still there, and its astral impression inevitably informs where we are coming from. Whenever we look up at the stars we will stir this early memory, and we will get a whimsical feeling of something we cannot quite place. Any movie about space will stir this inner child. If we look deep enough, then, we see it is still there, and this awareness can then change the persistence and substance of the conditioning simply by unearthing it.


This is a temple of memories, then, but more specifically, the persistence of memory as astral conditioning. Its challenge is to unearth the deeper, buried significance behind our habitual behaviour. In unearthing the root of our habitual behaviour, we find an even deeper level of memories and astral influences stirring below the surface, pulsing with life – an underworld of behaviour patterns layered upon deeper or older behaviour patterns. It is these most deeply rooted factors of the personality which are within the realm of the 4th temple, which appropriately lies at the base of every horoscope. In other words, this temple is like an archaeological dig, a site that can be continually excavated to unearth a deep wealth of self knowledge, and the main sites of initial exploration are our earliest memories of childhood and our parents and the feelings which grow from them, but it inevitably leads beyond the grave to the experiences of other lifetimes, lost worlds and the domain of our ancestral DNA. We find the fossils of creatures we never even knew existed, but they are there and we are a product of them.

However, this is usually not easy to confront; there is fear associated with this region, as the ancients gave it an association with death and the grave. The old cliché from horror films “don’t go into the cellar” aptly expresses this fear in modern terms. Yet if we do not go down into the cellar, the Thing in the basement will eventually come up the stairs for us or cause all hell to break loose down there…so we are forced to go down and find the heart of the mystery. We have to excavate the foundation of this temple to uncover all its bones so that we can see what we are resting our whole lives upon. This is somewhat like the 8th, but with an important difference – in the 8th, if the situation is ignored then what is hidden will ultimately arise from the deeps, uncontrolled, ravenous and starved of light, while in the 4th it will remain buried, rooting us in a blockage, and perhaps lead to a slow rot that eventually collapses the foundation of the house that is our life. And it is also somewhat like the 12th, but where the 12th leaves us with no other course but to accept the results of the past and chalk up any failures to experience, the 4th as an angular temple empowers us to do something with what we inherit from it. So, it says, your parents hit you when you were a kid? That sucks. What will you do about that now? Are you going to let that continue to hurt you, long after it is history?


A large part of the initial part of this excavating is in coming to terms with our relationship to our parents and any experiences in our life with them that may have shaped us in a certain way. Traditionally this place is often called the place of the father, but this is clearly a product of the misogynistic way in which boys and girls were given different value by society. Some astrologers divide our mother and father between the 4th and the 10th temples, but they have differing philosophies and ideas about why and which parent belongs to which temple. In my experience the 10th temple does have a connection to our parents but it is much stronger and far more direct in the 4th, and it has always worked well for me to just consider both parents as being represented by the 4th, but especially the parent we bonded with or the one we had the most domestic time with.

Whatever the specifics, whether they are biological parents, adoptive parents, guardian angels or secret aunts, the 4th resonates with their early conditioning of our character. This includes their total absence because we are talking about the emotional needs of a child to be protected and nurtured here. Because this is a place of power the symbolism can be very literal in some cases. For instance, from my own father I learned about mortality because he died a week before I turned 13. I learned from him the fragility of life, how it can change in an instant and never be the same, and for many years the intensity of these impressions overwhelmed all other memories of him. Later, however, I was able to look back and uncover many memories and impressions that were made before he left, which lay beneath the emotive power of the memories surrounding his death. I could then remember the times he played with me and taught me how joyful and wondrous life was, without the pain of losing him overwhelming my emotions. I could remember him planting daffodil bulbs with me when I was 3 years old, showing me how deep they needed to be and which way they needed to be inserted, getting my hands and nails into the cold soil with glee, and then watching them grow day by day in the back of our garden with even more. So he gave me a very early appreciation of nature which has stayed with me ever since, but until I came to remember this gift it remained buried within me, underneath the disturbing memories of his death. I have Taurus on the cusp of the 4th temple, and Taurus is the sign of nature and planting. I also have Saturn on the cusp of this temple – the planet of separation, maturation and death. The consequences of his death – Saturn – had occluded my vision of the (Taurus themed) memory – I only knew it as ‘planting flowers makes me feel strangely sad’. It took a long time and lots of patient and continued effort (Saturn) but eventually I excavated those lost memories. So it is with every memory, not just those which make powerful impressions on our astral body. They are all infinitely deep. Our astral body is in effect the sum total of all our personal impressions of and reactions to personal events. ALL of them. When you think about that, its mind bogglingly complicated.


When we genuflect on this it becomes quickly apparent that our parents also carried such conditioning and theirs too, and so on in a line we cannot trace back to its origins, for it stretches into complete obscurity, back beyond the recorded memories of even our most distant ancestors. Vast tapestries of connected memory palaces then reveal themselves, half hidden in the shade at all times but often anchored in place by family lines that can be traced and tell its tales. So our parents or more specifically our relationship to our early guardians and protectors and our progenitors are fundamental properties of this region of space, which lies below where we are born, in the direction of our ancestral bones in the ground. Yet even underneath this layer there are more, for the causes of our childhood experiences are not just the way our parents treat us but the way theirs treated them, and so on back, and we may then see the workings of karma in the 4th temple, because in large part its content must arise from the choices we have made in other lives, sometimes as our own ancestors. This is what is truly buried here – the complex foundation or memory of previous being, a staggering trove of treasures with which we have emerged into this world through having clothed ourselves in it pre-natally. Most people will only see their mother, father or guardians from childhood reflected here. Only the deepest introspection can lay a path to the deeper pre-natal memories, but they and the process of uncovering them are encoded here in astrological script. The other astrally focused temples – the 8th and 12th – are also founded in their own way on karmic circumstances arising from the past, but neither have the direct relevance and impact of the 4th as a place of power. It must also be made clear that all planets and all of astrology are rooted in past life memories and experiences, and that karma is therefore present in every part of the chart, however the 4th temple is especially concerned with the past and so with these matters and furthermore with the specific human experience of recovering memories of them. The Tail of the Dragon is another very significant point in this regard, as are the influences of Saturn.

Of course, our nationality is also a major theme of our early conditioning – a person born and raised in India will have a very different experience than one born in Brazil, for example, and while it does not show which culture we belong to, the 4th temple does show the connection we have to that native culture, our experience of being part of it, in much the same way as it shows our experience of being part of a family. This too is a very powerful factor in our lives overall and can be a major pattern in our incarnation cycle. We get karma with nations and tribes and families of all kinds. The ancient texts also attribute this place with the events that occur following ones death, when we are in the grave ourselves and observe events from the astral, but this has fallen out of use in modern astrology as our cultures have moved away from celebrating life in death towards a more fearful and taboo attitude to burial. In other words I suggest that our cultures move towards a less enlightened view of death (trying to forget it as soon as possible, and discarding most of the cultural rituals that honour our ancestors) has eroded our knowledge of this part of the 4th temples meaning, it is a part of the temple abandoned and in poor condition. This is partly why the meanings of astrological temples vary slightly from culture to culture and time to time – they are translated by human culture. The temples step down the vast cosmic play of forces (displayed by planets and signs and aspects) into temporal and spatial experience – consequently, we shape them as they shape us. Meditation on this matter considering that the temples are formed from the daily rotation of the Earth (primary motion) unfolds many deep mysteries on the nature of time, space and the mechanism by which astrological effects are produced. These revelations are not easy to put into words.

So in summation the 4th is the influence of the past, especially childhood and the guardians of childhood, the connection we have to our native culture and our buried memories of past lives which have a direct but often ‘underground’ bearing on the current one. Furthermore, since it is sourced in these foundational experiences the 4th temple is connected with establishing a base, hence, with our homes and our private life behind closed doors as adults, and with the basis or basics of anything. In a temple cycle, whatever was begun and born by the 1st temple lays a foundation – finds a home – in the 4th. In this way astrology draws a direct parallel between the place we call our own home, the influence of our parents in childhood, and the deep patterns of our incarnation history. Its challenge is to uncover the buried significance to our habits and early life experiences as a child. It shows us an ideal kind of home for our inner nature, one that will support and nurture us, the kind of quality we should invite into our homes in order for them to be healthy environments for us to live, and if we have an emphasis in this area of life (by the birth chart or through the 26 keys), we will spend our time laying down all kinds of platforms upon which future structures or even empires can be built. It can in adult life show our role as parents, based on our experience with our own parents – another example of how karmic influences shape family down generations, but our role as a parent shows up more directly in the 5th temple. Finally, from a hermetic perspective, and as the ancient texts state, this temple describes the qualities of the astral realm inhabited by the soul prior to and following its incarnation, the astral foundation of being which occurs before physical incarnation in the womb and its immediate resting place after death. In this temple we can investigate some of the reasons for our current incarnation, as it can reveal what they were and more significantly why they have a bearing now. We can see what we are founding this existence upon, the bottom line upon which it all rests. Without a strong anchor here, any chart will be cast adrift on the seas of change that life will inevitably bring, and there will be little we can call a haven from the storm. The sign opening this temple and its ruling planet as well as any planets found within this temple will be extremely sensitive to all these issues.

Concepts: Privacy, domestic life, family and parents, childhood, background, roots, basis, landed property, memories, influence of the past, end of life, way we may be remembered after death.
Ancient Terms: Underground Place, Bottom of the Heavens, Lake or Heart of Duat.